Used Book Shops in Amman

I just LOVE used books!

Nothing’s more magical to own a book after someone have read it, dog-eared some pages, and lift some doodles and notes here and there! Sometimes I find a book signed by its author, with few little words to another special person to her/him.. that is super incredible! Or a book that was exchanged between friends, family members and so on.. All of these details make the world of used books the right place for me.
Amman, as all​ ​other cities in the world have its own shops that sell second-hand books, hereunder my list for the best ones:

متاجر الكتب المستعملة في عمّان

• Mahall al-Maa محل الماء

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Small shop located in Quraish street behind the Amman’s nymphaeum, owned by Hamzeh, a wonderful person, and a true booklover, Hamzeh has a massive collection of books, mostly rare ones! I spend hours and sometimes days overwhelmed his gems! Previously, Hamzeh inherited his late father’s​ ​bookshop under the name of Khazanet Aljahith, until 2017,​ ​he decided to launch his own new venture with a new brand name, and that was: Mahall al-Maa, which translate into English as: The Shop of Water, the concept behind that name came from the fact: water is essential for every life form, and so the books! Hamzeh believes in this value, therefore he launched a new initiative of its kind, he called it:”Take a book and pay as you wish!” Just to support the reading culture!

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Despite the difficult economic situation of the country and this business, in particular, Hamzeh’s keeps his promise and encourage
his ‘Guests’ to maintain the reading habit, and he open a 24/7, even if that costs him a lot. A Nobel man! Please visit his facebook page from here.

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ELHARF Tour

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.

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Authentic again!

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.

 

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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.

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Calligraphy workshop in DAH

In March 2015, I was invited to conduct a workshop for the design students at the Dar Al Hekma University in Jeddah, during its international design symposium: Reinventing the Vernacular. My workshop theme was ‘Contemporary Arabic Calligraphy’, which I introduced my vision of developing the art of Arabic calligraphy, and how it can be blended into other modern visual forms, and keeping its soul and originality in the same time. The workshop has focused on the practical aspects, by asking students to sketch, play, experiment and then try to come up with genuine artworks that reflect each student own style and point of view.

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The 10 Commandments of Humanitarian Design

I’ve shared those commandments in my talk at Dar Al-Hekma University, in the Design Week 2015: REINVENTING THE VERNACULAR.

1. Know your skills playground!
And find who might need it so you can serve and use best of your skills.

2. Pause Doodling!
Go make serious stuff.

3. Knock their door!
Intervention is good. Don’t wait for their knock knock, they may be shy, or simply don’t know why you are needed!

4. Create trust!
Good intentions create trust, remember this with your clients.

5. Design for what a human need.. or might need!
You should know what are the needs, include them as a solutions in your offer.

6. Think, design, and apply!
After spending your time in thinking, researching and design. Show the idea when it’s completed, stay away of half-road trip. Make real projects!

7. Stop be perfectionist for sometime!
Perfecting every single damn detail before publishing your work is a very long and hectic process, train your self to take a break, and do quick stuff with 20% effort but that bring 80% of impact and benefits.

8. Don’t be shy!
Show your work confidently, and learn from your mistakes if happened. Other wise you remain in the shadow.

9. Make your clients famous!
Helping people to be recognised would make you very recognised as well. Carry their story with you.

10. Take the shorter route to happiness!
Work > money > happiness
Money makes you happy, so why don’t you make it a step shorter and reach happiness directly without the money headache?

By: Hussein Alazaat

Dar Al-Hekma University, Jeddah, March 5, 2015