Hip and trendy Jordanian artists are emerging and making waves in the arts and crafts scene
Jordan is witnessing a revival in interest for traditional handicrafts with a modern flair. Numerous designers of fashion, jewelry, home furnishings, art installations and more are choosing to reflect their Arabic cultural heritage in their clothing, jewelry and homes and offices by embracing the fusion of traditional and modern designs that fits their current lifestyle. Just a few of Jordan’s creative designers are listed below:
A hardworking woman with a passion for heritage, love and people, designer Abla Azar has over 20 years of experience creating premium traditional embroidery and modernized Arabesque clothing. Abla’s boutique store is in Amman where she sells her custom-made shawls, dresses, blouses, jackets and other traditional clothing specially designed and tailored by her skilled local team of men and women who have inherited the skills to produce these works of art. Abla offers dozens of styles and hundreds of materials and colours to choose from.
Nabataean Ladies Cooperative
At Nabataean Ladies Cooperative, the lost art of Bedouin jewelry is revived by skilled craftswomen melding contemporary and traditional designs worked into silver and metal handcrafted accessories. Because visitors to Jordan are presented with opportunities to buy “Bedouin jewelry” at every turn, it is perhaps not obvious to newcomers that authentic Bedouin Jewelry has almost disappeared. The truth is that gold jewelry has replaced silver as the favorite among Bedouins and Arabs in general. Apart from its obvious appeal as adornment, it is important to understand that silver jewelry has always been potent symbol of security and independence for Bedouin women. At her wedding, a bride was approached by guests who, one by one would adorn her with chains of silver coins, chokers, headdresses, necklaces, bracelets, anklets and armbands. Like a portable saving’s account, this dowry would remain with her throughout her life and portions of it could be sold during hard times or for a special occasion. Silver kitabs or hijabs also served as amulets to scare away evil spirits. Young children often wore noise making amulets to serve this purpose.
A popular design was a cylinder holding protective verses, from the Quran inside it. Blue colored beads, triangles, stars, moons, rosettes or the stylized hands of Fatimah were also thought to keep spirits away. A woman’s jewelry informed onlookers about who she was and where she came from. The people of Wadi Musa have a Bedouin heritage and are the protectors of the ancient Nabataean city of Petra. The Nabataean Ladies Cooperative was established in 1996 to revive the disappearing art of Bedouin silver while creating jobs for women.
Wild Jordan handicrafts are part of the socio-economic development program of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) for local communities. Sixteen handicraft workshops operated by Wild Jordan have been set up in nature reserves around the country to help conserve nature by providing new sources of income and employment for families in villages near to nature reserves to reduce their dependency on the reserves’ natural resources. Wild Jordan workshops use the natural assets of protected areas to create sustainable economic and social benefits for local communities. These distinctive handmade products, including jewelry, soaps, leather and more, are sold at nature reserves and the Wild Jordan Center in Amman. The unique and high-quality products are wonderful as Jordanian souvenirs and gifts or to decorate your home. They can be customized for corporate and large orders.
Lama Hourani is the founding principal of her eponymous jewelry line. A designer, artist and adventurist at heart; she applies her background in Product Design and multidisciplinary arts to create one-of-a-kind pieces that are not only commercially appealing but also conceptually meaningful at all scales. In 2000, Hourani launched her first jewelry collection, establishing herself as a trendsetter by making Arab heritage accessible and hip to her peers throughout the Middle East. Growing up in an artistic family, who founded Foresight32, the first private art gallery in Jordan, Hourani has always been surrounded with art and inspiration. She created her first collection in the gallery’s kitchen with basic tools and one silversmith who taught her the foundations of jewelry making. Feeling that the world is divided by ethnicity and religion, she re-created prehistoric art elements and used them as a mean of expression, merging them with contemporary design elements and cultural references from all over the world. She is passionate about cultural innovation and recreating heritage through arts and design.
Beit al Bawadi
Beit al Bawadi makes hand crafted ceramics. Drawing on the cultural heritage of the region for inspiration, skilled artisans in the Beit al Bawadi workshop create exquisite ceramic pieces that find their natural setting in any home, office or hotel lobby. The Beit al Bawadi ceramics project was set up by the not-for-profit Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD). For more than twenty years, through Beit al Bawadi, JOHUD has created productive and rewarding employment for more than sixty people.
Adopting art as a way of life, Hayan Maani is a multi-talented artist whose work covers a wide array of design directions. From paintings and sculpture to calligraphy and interior design, Hayan has steadfastly left his own imprint in his home country Jordan. Firmly believing in the power of expression, individualism and originality, his works are a true reflection of his artistic inner nature.
Natalie Hijazi has over 10 years of experience as a 2D artist, illustrator, concept artist and art director within advertising, animation, gaming and film. She is also a skilled painter and enjoys working with water colours, oil painting, not to mention creating designs for her line of handmade silver jewelry.
Madaline Marrar – Olive Wood Art
Madaline Marrar is a talented local artist who paints on wooden bowls crafted by men and women with special needs. In Madaline’s own words: “I have an extremely unconventional thinking pattern when it comes to the world around me. I consider myself not only a graphic designer but also an artist. My interests are vast and range from painting, to designing, to filmmaking. Being interested in all things expressive, I love the creative process down to executing an idea to its full capacity.”
Dania Kurdi & Zahra Kilani
ZdSuzani was established by Dania Kurdi and Zahra Kilani as a reflection of their love for vintage fabrics, each carrying their own unique rich history and capable of being handcrafted into contemporary styles that answer the call for Ethnic Elegance. ZdSuzani combines vintage fabric with handmade tribal accessories for eastern and contemporary flair. The collection includes kaftans, shawls, clutches, and other accessories.
With a name that stems from Jordanian Bedouin Heritage, Jo Bedu is one of Jordan’s coolest t-shirt stores! Founded in 2007 by Tamer and Michael, Jo Bedu offers people of all ages cool and funny T-shirts, laptop sleeves, pillows, ipad sleeves, sweaters and stickers. At their small colorful store in Jabal Al Weibdeh, Jo Bedu has over 60 designs, mostly with funny Arabic slogans or common slang words, some English designs like “Wadi Rum and coke” or “I Survived Mansaf” or “ Got jameed?” are also available. Jo Bedu’s Jordanian wear t-shirts make great gifts to take back home, or to wear around the world and show off your Jordanian style! You will surely get people stopping you to ask where you got the t-shirt or what it means!
Elham & Issa Jewelry
Husband and wife duo Elham Kalaji and Issa Sabeh established their jewelry brand, known simply as Elham & Issa Jewellery, in 2007. Blending tradition, culture, and art with expert craftsmanship and intense attention to detai, each item the couple creates is a singular work of art. Aiming for mystery, the pair believes that the value of a piece of jewelry lies in its secrets.