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 →
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!