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'Departures' probes into Jordanian design's past and present
‘Departures’ curated by Rana Beiruti in the Wadi Rum Desert
Image: Courtesy of Adorno

'Departures' probes into Jordanian design's past and present

Presented by gallery Adorno and curated by Rana Beiruti, the 'Departures' collection features the work of ten design studios.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : May 16, 2022

Ensconced within the rich, pink sands and colossal cliffs of the Wadi Rum desert, ‘Departures’ is a reflection of the journey of Jordanian collectible design through time, a rendezvous of the traditional and the contemporary. The collection presented by Denmark based gallery Adorno, is a collaboration with the Office of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, the patron and supporter of Amman Design Week. Curated by Amman based architect and curator Rana Beiruti, the collection, in her words visualises “a voyage into futuristic forms; a dream of the future that is rooted in the earth”.

The assortment features a selection of makers who dabbled with different materials and design processes to explore the amalgamation of the past and present. “While the collection draws inspiration from the traditional techniques that define design in Jordan, it also shows a more contemporary side of Jordanian aesthetics that are inspired by our landscape and surroundings, where the designers have produced new forms that are fluid and curvilinear,” shares Rana Beiruti. “There’s a strong sentiment of craftsmanship – items that are hand felted, hammered, or chiselled – but the innovation is visible in the final form,” she adds.

‘Departures’ sitting against the natural landscape of Jordan Image: Courtesy of Adorno
The collection features works in different mediums and materials Image: Courtesy of Adorno

Works full of new interpretations of craft by Jordanian designers Ahmad Jarrar, Andre Mcheileh, Far Flung, in doi, Ishraq Zraikat, kutleh, Opus Design Collective, SNC design studio, suli, subsidiary of Morph X Design Studio, and Twelve Degrees take the centrestage for the collection. The exuberant and experimental identity of the country’s design is channelled through a curated materiality of wood, stone, ceramic, metal and wool by the contemporary designers to create pieces which resonate with the present-day Jordanian design scene by manipulating rather earthly materials. The process accentuates sustainability, locally sourced or repurposed materials and intimately hand-crafted pieces that are assembled to exalt the ethereal beauty of the desert that envelopes and guides them.

Balloon Piggy Bank by Ahmad Jarrar Image: Courtesy of Adorno
Hammer and Chisel Cake Stands by SNC Design Studio Image: Courtesy of Adorno

“Jordan’s natural landscape is one of a kind, and its haunting beauty and mystique have inspired generations of local artisans and designers,” Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan points out. This undulating landscape, of palpable textures and organic forms became the muse for pieces like the marbled stone of in doi’s ‘Turret Candle Holder’; the geometric and carved pattern on the ‘Hammer & Chisel’ cake stand by SNC Design Studio; and the meandering body of the vibrant ‘GEM Coffee Table' by Opus Design Collective.

in doi’s ‘Turret Candle Holder’ Image: Courtesy of Adorno
‘GEM Coffee Table’ by Opus Design Collective Image: Courtesy of Adorno

Intergalactic visions like the ‘Jupiter’ statement coasterpiece by Andre Mcheileh and the ‘Capsule’ side table / stool by Suli add otherworldliness to a landscape that is extremely earthly. The vivid ‘Money balloon’ piggy bank by Ahmad Jarrar and the suspended ‘Gong mirror’ by Far Flung, effortlessly portray the aspect of eccentricity. Hand-felted ‘Melt’ textiles by Ishraq Zraikat the ‘Petra’ vase by Kutleh singing in the colours of Petra and the ‘Jarra’ ceramic carafe by Twelve Degrees lucidly bring forth the innovative design scene of Jordan. “I believe there is a whole generation that has lost touch with the land and its outputs, and has succumbed to globalisation and pressures to meet market demands,” Beiruti explains. “Therefore, I am especially fond of designers who have been investing time in researching the possibilities of locally available materials,” she continues.

‘Jupiter’ statement coasterpiece by Andre Mcheileh Image: Courtesy of Adorno
‘Gong mirror’ by Far Flung Image: Courtesy of Adorno

With the sands of the arid Wadi Rum desert as a grounded backdrop, ‘Departures’ embarks on a journey to display Jordan’s evolving design scenario. Its approach not only aligns with the nation’s craft heritage and sustainable practices, but also brings the potential of local materials, upcycling and material waste to the forefront in contemporary design without compromising on the aesthetics of the same. The collection, striking an immaculate balance between serious and playful, is a hymn to Jordan’s design heritage, an anthem for its artistic, design-led future.

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