Like any other vivid city, Amman has its own aesthetic and well-designed shop signs. Looking back at Amman’s photos from the 60’s and 70’s, up until the few ones left nowadays; one can identify the highly flavored visual identity placed above each shop entrance. The signs were designed and produced by local sign painters, using their own taste in calligraphy, colors, composition and sometimes logo design. They were the designers of their era, without any academic direction or any written guidelines to follow, just a pure spontaneous design practice.
Unfortunately, this vital craft has vanished with the rise of computer graphics and mega size printers, and nowadays it is near extinction.
As part of my participation in Amman Design Week 2016; I’ve brought back two of the authentic sign painting masters to the scene, to produce new signage for ‘The Crafts District’ shops in the Raghadan area, and to create a real encounter between the craft masters and the designers of Amman.
Curator of ‘The Crafts District’: Dina Haddadin
Text and photography: Hussein Alazaat
كأي مدينة أخرى تضج بالحياة، فإن عمّان تملك ذوقها الخاص في لافتات المحال التجارية، وبالتتبع لصور الشوارع واللافتات في عمّان منذ الستينات والسبعينات وانتهاءً بما تبقى منها في أيامنا هذه، نجد الهوية البصرية المرتبطة بنكهة المكان والأشخاص والأعمال في المدينة على لافتات جميلة فوق مداخل المحلات، تم تصميم وتنفيذ هذه اللوحات على يد خطاطي عمّان، والذين قاموا باستخدام فراشيهم وأدواتهم، وفهمهم للتصميم والتكوين الحروفي، وذوقهم بالألوان والظلال والتأثيرات، قاموا بمقام “المصممين” المتفردين بالمدينة، خاصة عندما نرى أن بعضهم تجاوز مساحة اللافتة إلى تصميم شعارات ومواد طباعية أخرى مثلاً. كل ذلك بمنهج عفوي بسيط يتكلم مع الشارع والزبائن وضيوف المدينة بلهجة واضحة مفهومة ثنائية اللغة في معظم الأحيان.
لسوء الحظ، تم القتل التدريجي لهذه الحرفة مع ظهور الكمبيوتر والطابعات الضخمة وانخفاض الذوق العام والسعي نحو السرعة والرخص، يمكننا القول بأن حرفة صناعة الآرمات قد انقرضت الآن بشكل كبير.
ضمن مشاركتي بأسبوع عمّان للتصميم في نسخته الأولى، قمت بالتعاون الفني مع اثنين من “الخطاطين المعلمين” القدامى لهذه الحرفة، وعملنا سوية لانتاج لافتات/آرمات جديدة لـ “حي الحرف” في مجمع رغدان السياحي، لإحياء هذه الحرفة من جديد ولخلق مواجهة جديدة بين شيوخ هذا الكار ومصممي عمّان.
Signpainter Abed Jukhy (Born in Amman, 1930) Holding his tools box. Mr. Jukhy is practicing his craft with great passion! despite all of the health issues he is facing! He is still offering his services in his authentic workshop that is located in Prince Mohammad street, since the 1960’s.
While exploring my archive I’ve stumbled on this map of Amman, it was published by “International Media Services”, as you see their credentials at the map footer.
It’s really a strange thing to find! I don’t recall how it came into my archive.. it’s like seeing a visualised memory directly in my hands. Anway, the map is really interesting, it shows you the brands, shops, venues and landmarks of Amman two decades ago, I’m sure many of us still remembering few parts of this map, the map of a vivid city who changed a lot.
The map, obviously, was drawn by hand, the artist who done that used some weird orientations, so you find Rainbow street is west of Al-Husseini Mosque and they share the same horizontal level, then you keep going west until you reach Abdoun, a few steps after Abdoun you find yourself in the Queen Alia Airport! Funny..
However, the artist made a good effort to draw the building’s facade, I was impressed to see some iconic buildings of Amman drawn in a nice way, it seems like someone did a big research for photos and logos, and delivered them to the artist’s hands.
Many brands in this map have been extinct, and many are still surviving, but it still Amman that we love!
Bilingual Typography at the map’s masthead.
Good job on drawing this building, still exist on the Queen Rania Street.
Childhood memories at Jollibee restaurant in Shmaisany.
Al-Jahith Treasury / Khazanat Al- Jahith / خزانة الجاحظ is one of my most admired places in Amman, imagine your self isolated inside a beduin tent far a way from all of the city’s headaches between tons and tons of used and rare books! This is heaven for me!
I do love vintage authentic shops, I can’t pass by one of them and do not go inside and spend some time with the shop owner. Kanaat Salon صالون القناعة is warm barbershop I’ve found last year while visiting Orhangazi city, north of Bursa, Turkey.
This is a big research that I’m working on, I’m so thrilled to dig more to reveal more and more stories from our own history. Here I’m sharing a piece that amused me, it’s a spread from Ibn al-Nafis book: Compendium of the Canon of Medicine which he wrote around 1240 CE – 1288 CE, I added some guiding graphics to emphasis my findings.
As I’m always saying; my first design instructor was Mohie El Deen El Labbad, the late artist, designer and cartoonist–or as he used to describe himself: A bookmaker!
I started reading Labbad articles in Majed magazine, at the age of 8 and 9, he had a weekly article about art, design thinking, graphic design, art critique, visual understanding, culture and identity re-forming, all for children readers, of course, he was the pioneer, and sadly saying; I’m not sure if there is anyone still doing this at the present time.
He launched several series, each having one title and one theme, in this article from 1988, he wrote under the title “The Beautiful Books’ Closet – خزانة الكتب الجميلة” a review on something he admired a lot; the Arab Arts. The catalog waspublished by The Freer Gallery of Art, at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museums in Washington, 1975.