The Kabariti Village, A Journey through Crafts and Materials
Editor: Sara Yaseen
Amman Design Week celebrated its third edition under the theme of ‘Possibilities’ in 2019, focusing on the growing experimentation in the use and application of materials found in Jordan.
Arini, The curator of the Crafts District, followed this vision further with a particular focus on innovation in traditional local and levantine crafts, and its application in contemporary designs using either handmade or digital techniques.
“We wanted to unsettle the distinction between designers and craftspeople and present both of them as parts of a symbiotic process of ‘making’”Arini*
The theme of innovation against tradition was apparent at the old Kabariti village in Jabal Amman, where the Crafts District took place. Built in the 1930s with only minimal use in recent years, the venue debuted its charming heritage to the public at full blast, which the outdoor installations complimented and highlighted even further with their more contemporary expression.
For the welcoming installation, Nīla, Arini collaborated with the women of ‘Safi Crafts’ in order to showcase the unique colour of the locally-grown indigo plant from which they extracted this pure pigment to dye the hanging cloths. Their rhythmic arrangement together with their playful dancing diffuses the harsh sun as they set the mood for innovation in craftsmanship for the visitors.
The main exhibition “Min Ilā” hosted a variety of these innovative experimentations, from prototypes such as Sama El Saket’s “Reshaping the Vessel”, which rethinks the traditional ceramic vessel by combining handmade, digital and industrial techniques to produce a hollow cast wall system for storing water, to sellable products such as Sakeb’s chic Terrazzo pens, and finally, to ‘raw’ experimentations such as the beautiful material samples of Material Innovation, in collaboration with Goethe Institut, in which they used raw and organic resources to develop sustainable textile alternatives.
The outdoor areas accommodated the works of a few local designers such as Ruba Asi, the founder of The Kingdom of Childhood Initiative. In her playful installation “Stitches in Space”, she addressed the “watching culture and the pervasiveness of digital screens” by creating an alternative play experience for children using four stitching screens equipped with jute ropes and giant wooden needles, which was inspired by “fibre art that also highlights Amman’s 60-year-old rattan furniture craft.” Other outdoors installations included the work of Yazeed Balqar‘s “Tensegrity Pavilion” and Daniel+Qusai’s “(Dis)connect” metal chairs, which unique dimensions encourage the users to socialise and interact by playing on their comfort levels.
Through a journey of discovery into the crafts and materials of Bilād Al-Shām, ِArini also showcased a different understanding of craft, in which tradition is seen as a sum of the available resources and materials from which we can craft possible futures.
At the level of Omar Bin Al-Khattab Street, ‘Rihlā fi Al-Hiraf’ features crafts from across Jordan; from its northern region, to its eastern Badiya, and down to the southern Jordan valley.
The journey starts with the collective craft practices and live-installation of Syrian and Jordanian artisans in Turquoise Mountain’s wehda, and moves to the northern region of Azraq and Umm El-Jimal, featuring basalt stone and desert cosmetics, as well as soaps from Zarqa and textiles from Ajloun in Irth Collective. Produced in collaboration with Petra National Trust, Sīq offers a spatial experience focused on our perception of a journey rather than the final destination. Following a display of ceramics, clay, and paper recycling produced by the Iraq Al-Amir’s Women’s Co-Op, the journey ends in the south with the natural dyes extracted by the women of Ghor Al-Safi at Safi Crafts.
*Disclaimer: herskhazeen.com is operated by Arini.