While walking in the city of Madaba last month (South of Jordan), I’ve stumbled upon the signage of this tailor shop, it says: أزياء بندلي Bandali’s Fashion, the usage of the Diwani script in this charming way that shows freedom and appreciation to smoothness and details, it definitely made me loves the signage and sees the clear connection with the tailoring craftsmanship.
And, last night, I was walking in the city of Al-Khobar (Eastern province of Saudi Arabia), 1,642 KM away from Madaba, I’ve found this beautiful sign, which says: رند Rand, and it happens to be the exact same style as the Bandali’s Fashion, and the stunning thing was: Another tailor shop! Wow..
I’m not sure if they were made by the same signmaker, I doubt.. I asked the shop owners in Al-Khobar and they have no idea who’s done the sign for them, while in the one in Jordan was closed when I photographed it. Nevertheless, I’m so glad that I’ve spotted those two gems in two different Arab cities, but with one soul for sure. It’s a proof that there are many things to unite us.
That was my first time in Cinemas since March 2020, and I wanted to break my fast with the long-awaited film: Dune!
It’s based on the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, and directed by Denis Villeneuve, the film is totally mind-blowing in all of its aspects: The screenplay, the fashion design, the architecture and industrial designs, and of course the music score by Hans Zimmer (They said he turned down Tenet to make Dune!) and the other layers like human aspiration, politics and geology!
But, there was another aspect I didn’t know about until I watched the film, it’s the connections with our Arabian culture! So let’s see the following:
– The planet which has the natural resources they want to obtain (Like nowadays petrol) is called Arrakis = Al-Raqis = The Dancer = الراقص
– Paul, the chosen one, was called: Lisan al-Gaib = Teller of things yet to come = لسّان الغيب
– The monstrous worms called Shai-Hulud: Eternal thing = شيء الخلود
– One of the masters in House Atreides named: Thufir Hawat = The Victorious Protector (?) = ظافر الحوط
And many more terms in the original novel (I just ordered it!)
The other important thing was the filming locations, the main important scenes of Arrakis planet was shot in our very Wadi Rum, Jordan! Plus some additional sand dunes shots of Liwa desert in Abu Dhabi, UAE. That added another astonishing level to the film, Wadi Rum looked super futuristic and archaic at the same time, in some parts we saw structures and architectural forms in the rocks very similar to Petra!
Imagine the Nabatean people of Petra, living in the year 10191! What would they wear? How do they deal with hydration and water management? What would be their writing script?
And that’s another reason to LOVE Denis Villeneuve’s works, his appreciation for scripts, I remembered my fascination when I watched his ‘Arrival’ in 2016, where the alien creatures communicated with us in a super deciphered and prestigious script!
Finally, to tribute the film and its makers, I decided to make an Arabic title/logo and some letterings for it:
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!
I’ve guided the design and crafts tour during the 2nd edition of Amman Design Week, the title of the tour was named after my new established project: ElHARF, which will be the home of calligraphy and Arabic visual arts.
The tour started from Calligrapher Shehadeh Haroun’s shop, to meet him and learn from his experience in silkscreen printing, Haroun still using the old-school methods that he acquired from the sign painters of Damascus once he was there 50 years ago! I’ve collaborated with Haroun to produce the English lettering of Amman Design Week, and to demonstrate the essential skills and give some funny tips for the tour members.
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.
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 →
I was impressed with this amazing collection of Islamic seals on different manuscripts from various Islamic cultures and ages, this database was collected by Chester Beatty Library in Dublin from their own fine archive of manuscripts, more than 2600 seal impressions were found and documented!
I’ve picked some of them to share with you, copy rights are reserved to Chester Beatty Library:
identifier W.608.000703|date 2010-09-01|creator The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore/MD/USA)|contributor The Walters Islamic Manuscript Digital Project|contributor Bockrath, Diane|contributor Tabritha, Ariel|contributor Emery, Doug|contributor Gacek, Adam|contributor Gerry, Kathryn|contributor Noel, William|contributor Quandt, Abigail|format image/tiff|description This is an image of folio 351a from Walters MS W.608, Five poems (quintet), on paper, written by Ilyas ibn Yusuf Nizami Ganjavi, copied by Habib Allah ibn `Ali ibn Husam, Rabi II 971 AH / 1563 CE|rights Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.|source Walters Art Museum Ms. W.608, folio 351a|title Walters MS W.608, Five poems (quintet)|type Image|subject Codex|subject Manuscript|subject Persian|subject Walters Art Museum|subject Persian|subject Literary — Poetry
My next little project is to make one seal for my name inspired by these designs.. stay tuned!
Yes! I finally met Helmi El Touni! A great master that filled my childhood with bold drawings and unique calligraphic styles.. I met him during Nuqat 2015 conference in Kuwait, it was one of best things happened to me in my entire life!
I can’t hide my happiness! He also signed the Yasmin Taan book about him, and he wrote there: To dear Hussein, the precious colleague 🙂
Another great thing besides all of this, was El Touni exhibition, where he showed the original artworks and sketches of his old works, seeing those masterpieces face to face was a great honor for me.
El Touni is a special character, his thoughts and works will be always inspiring me.
While I was in Kuwait last time, I couldn’t resist visiting Tareq Rajab Museum, I was truly SHOCKED! A massive amount of Islamic pieces from all around the world! I haven’t see such collection at any other museum!
I took couple hundred of photos there, here I selected some to share with you:
1- Calligraphy collection from Syria
By Badawi Al Derani
By Mamdouh Al Sharif
By Adib Jabban
By Amin, calligrapher and signpainter from Damascus