Unfortunately, many of Amman’s good old shop signs have been removed and lost. I share here with you my selection for the best existing ones, based on my personal taste, so it does not mean that number 1 is better than number 10 🙂
Hope you enjoy looking at them:
10. Chinese Shoe Gallery, Downtown, Quraish St.
By unknown sign painter, most probably he was Elia Kayyal. What I liked here is the Piccadilly shoes logo on the right side!
9. George Studio, Jabal Amman, Mutran St.
A Great example of contemporary typographic treatment for the Arabic and English names. The studio owner is a very nice guy as well. The sign it was made by Tarkhan, an Iranian origin sign painter who lived and worked in Amman.
8. Ashoury Shoes, Downtown, Basman St.
A Very old sign in Basman street, the maker is unknown, I doubt he was Tayseer Sadat, a Syrian origin sign painter lived and worked in Amman all of his life, he used here nice design decisions to lay everything out. We see the wooden material is very aged, and a man and woman shoes are being placed on both sides.
7. Sami Barbershop, Jabal Lwaibdeh, Paris square.
An amazing sign done by Nicola Sabanekh, a famous Ammani sign painter, he was born in Jaffa and learned a lot of sign making techniques since he worked with British mandate offices in Jordan and Palestine. In this sign Sananekh used a very advanced design touch, which was the matchmaking between Arabic and English names, the strange shape of letter A is something we don’t see a lot, and geometric slanted Arabic letters give the sign a very modernized identity fits the cultural spirit of Lwaibdeh.
6. Bahlawan Company, Downtown, Souq El Sukkar
This is a beautiful hand painted by oil colors on a metal surface, it was made by the Syrian origin sign painter Yassin Jookhi, as we see here Jookhi has used a very rare Kufic style to write the shop name, he calls this style: Qudsi Kufi!
5. National Exhibition, Downtown, Reda St.
One of the oldest shop signs in Amman, you can know this fact from the 3 digits phone number! What is great about it is the weird slanted English name to the left, while it should be slanted to the right as it’s acknowledged in the Latin typography basics.
4. Rafidain Bank, Downtown, King Faisal St.
3. Salon Vert, Downtown, Prince Mohamamd St.
Masterpiece of Amman, a huge beautiful sign on the unique insurance building in downtown, it was a brave decision to use this in-lighted letters directly on the crazily patterned building facade, while combining the tilted Square Kufic letters of the Arabic name with the spirit of the 1940’s in the Latin typography, it’s very similar to Neutra typeface by House Industries, check it out!
Update – October 2017: I was wondering for years who’s behind this astonishing work until I met sign painter Abed Jukhy and he told me that he has done that decades ago! What an amazing treasure he is!
2. Ali Abu Kalam, Downtown, Souq Mango
I loved this sign since I was a young kid, it reminds me with the old shop signs in Damascus and Cairo, that because of the wooden chiseled letters that we don’t see very often in Amman.
1. Debbas, Downtown, Prince Mohamamd St.
I really admire this sign, it has been a prominent landmark of Amman to me, I’ve took many friends and guests just to see it in person. The colors, the layout, the type effects, the bilingual respect.. All of these points make this sign one the best in Amman.
Of course, it was made by Elia Kayyal, the famous sign painter from Nablus. You can see his two signatures in the bottom corners. Kayyal left many great signs over Amman shops, but unfortunately, most of them have been lost or STOLEN except this one and other 3 or 4 smaller signs.
What is required from us as the citizens of Amman:
– Do what is possible to save those beautiful signs, they are part of the city character and a survived witness to Amman’s history.
– We should convince the shop owners to take care of their signs, by telling them how important they are.
– A retouching process should take place to maintain the signs.
– There should be efforts from the Amman municipality to protect those art pieces in collaboration with Amman’s designers, artists, and architects.