I’ve spent the day reading Taqwīm al-ṣiḥḥah تقويم الصحّة, a manuscript written by Ibn Buṭlān, it was presented to Saladin’s son, الملك الظاهر, the King of Aleppo in 1213 AD. Basically, the book is a long mesmerizing chart that’s briefly reviewing many kinds of food, herbs, habits, even music, and sports!
All pages of the content are having the same design, for an instant, the following page is reviewing some types of fruits, and what are the cons and pros and why? And what’s the targeted age group.. plus much interesting information:
And here is an interesting clipping, which talks about Maqlouba on the section of dishes!
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 upon 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!
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!
At one evening in October 2013, I sat down with the Jordanian director Naji Abu Nowar to discuss the collaboration between me and him to design the Arabic main title and credits for his new feature film Theeb, I was more than excited to take the job, it was a great honor for me to work with such a brilliant director like Naji, for a great shining opportunity in the Arab film industry.
My initial quick sketches with Naji, discussing styles and calligraphy approach.
We agreed to adapt the Nastaliq calligraphic style, that relates to the Ottoman official signage system that was popular in our region in 1916, where the film’s events are happening in. Continue reading →
My wife Lana has created a very interesting project by her own; a cooking channel talks only about the cuisine of Levant region and addressing the speakers of German language.. Enjoy watching while I enjoy eating 🙂
Since the creation of ISIS in 2013, I witnessed as an Arab and Muslim citizen the bloody image of ISIS, and their strong media presence as well, and I observed the usage of type and calligraphy in their designs for social media and other outlets. In this post, I’ll show my findings* for ISIS designs and will comment on them.
The official logo and flag of ISIS, which is the stamp of prophet Mohammad under the “Shahada” phrase that say: There is no god but Allah. The typographic style here is mimicking the stamp design in the 7th century, very basic, primitive and without any diacritic marks. ISIS used this design to declare their rights of “Khelafa” or caliphate. While in fact, the prophet Mohammad have not used his stamp as a war symbol, he used it as a personal stamp on messages to invite other rulers in the region to know about Islam. (We didn’t see the real stamp or its impression, the current known one is fake and was made by a Turkish artisan in the 19th century, the words’ order in the fake stamp above is wrong, Arabic words should stack over each other from top to down not the apposite)
I had the honor to be a speaker in Dar Al Hekma University’s international design symposium: Reinventing the Vernacular, that was the outline of my talk:
Shukran. Humanitarian Design Business
Daily, we observe the need for good design, the design that extends to all industries and segments of society. There is one segment, however, that is left behind. This group may not realise, nor afford, the importance of design thinking. Underprivileged communities are overlooked by designers, in their quest to establish a career and profit. What designers forget is why they started their business at all; to create change, and impact society. And what better way to achieve this, than to look to those who deserve it most, and would benefit from the smallest design effort? A new logo, a revamped window, a carefully considered sign would not only introduce “good” design to a neighbourhood, it could solve problems, and positively affect the livelihood of a person.
The concept of “humanitarian design” evolved without any demand from this under-privileged community, a distinctive approach that is counter to the ordinary procedures of the design scene. A service that is provided gratuitously, free of charge. It was simply a matter of think, design, and apply, with the only profit being a simple “Shukran” (Thank You in Arabic)
This Shukran means the world. The concept goes beyond charity and awareness-raising; it has developed to encompass an effort to bring good design and solutions to society, working with business owners and immersing oneself in the culture and daily life of local communities. These efforts are not without reward, new horizons open up opportunities, encouraging diverse clients and interesting projects.