Intro to Curating Contemporary Design

1 Apr 2018
15 May 2018

As part of its year-round programming, Amman Design Week launches a pilot version of a six-week course titled “Introduction to Curating Contemporary Design in the Middle East”.

The course, running from 1 April - 15 May, invites local and regional curators and designers to facilitate discussions with sixteen selected participants on the nature of curating, with a specific focus on contemporary design in the context of the Middle East.


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Throughout the duration of the course, participants will be exposed to curating across the region, from Egypt to the Gulf to Lebanon, as well as curating under different institutions, from museums to galleries to design weeks. It also touches on the curation of different design disciplines: fashion, graphic, architecture, and furniture/objects.

Week I: Introduction to Curating Contemporary Design

The course begins with a discussion by local facilitators Ammar Khammash and Dr. Mohammad al Asad, alongside Sahel Al Hiyari and Ahmad Humeid, curators of Amman Design Week’s Hangar Exhibitions in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The discussion entitled “Perspectives on curation in Jordan – technology, media, and public space” introduces participants to alternative approaches to curation in the Jordanian context, particularly drawing from previous experiences with Amman Design Week.

The introductory sessions of the course will be offered by Donna Loveday, course leader at the Kingston University “Introduction to Curating Contemporary Design” in collaboration with the Design Museum, London.

Week II: Contemporary Design in the Middle East I

Loveday, who will offer an international perspective on curation, and will be followed by Noor Al Dabbagh who will offer a workshop on different approaches to curating contemporary design and art, with specific reference to the context in the gulf.

The third facilitator will be Mohamed Elshahed, who will be offering a survey of design and architecture exhibitions through history, and speaking of his experiences curating the “Cairo Now!” exhibition at Dubai Design Week, as well as his work for the Modern Egypt Project at the British Museum London, and his own work with the Cairobserver.

Week III: Curatorial Communications

Huda Abifares, founder of the Khatt Foundation, is joining the course for a full week and will work closely with each participant to solidify concept notes and curatorial statements, offering her mentorship on how exhibitions can be used as a tool for communication, and how understanding audiences plays an important role in developing the communication layer of an exhibition.

Week IV: Exhibition Design and Management

Following the development of curatorial statements, participants will join Junia Elli Jorgji, head of design at the National Gallery of Ottawa, who will offer an introductory perspective on the nature of the relationship between the exhibition designer and the curator, focusing on different tools and methods of representation that curators can consider in the development of their work.

Contemporary Design from the Middle East II

The last in programmed workshops include three facilitators who will focus on production and how to get things done, while also offering different regional perspectives on contemporary design. Sahel Al Hiyari bridges exhibition design and curation in his seminar titled “design as a non-linear process” and talks about how to create a visual experience in the exhibition. Rawan Kashkoush, head of programming at Dubai Design Week, will share her experiences developing and curating the annual exhibition “Abwab”. And finally, Joy Mardini, founder of Joy Mardini gallery in Beirut, will speak about the production of exhibitions for her gallery, and how her work with designers in Beirut has allowed them to go international.

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Public Program

The course also runs alongside a public program, taking place throughout the month of April.

Donna Loveday, Design Curator and Educator, formerly Head of Curatorial at the Design Museum, London.

Thursday, 5 April, 6 - 7 pm - Curating Fashion Exhibitions: The talk will provide an introduction to curating contemporary design with a special focus on curating fashion‭. Drawing on her own professional experience‭, ‬Donna Loveday will explore the development of fashion curating‭, ‬its theories and methods‭.

Noor Dabbagh, Curator, Banafsajeel

Monday, 9 April, 6 - 7 pm - Shifting Public Spaces‭: ‬A Curator’s Perspective: The talk will highlight the role that curators and creatives can play in creating a public conversation in a changing social context‭, ‬and offers a glimpse into how the use of public space in Saudi Arabia is currently shifting‭. ‬

Huda AbiFares, Khatt Foundation

©Photo, Anne Dokter©Photo, Anne Dokter

Monday, 16 April, 6 - 7 pm - Curating Tactical Design: Connecting Heritage to Contemporary Culture: The talk will cover the topic of curating design today and how it can take many forms‭, ‬from a research investigation that expands into the creation of commissioned works‭, ‬to publications‭, ‬to a physical or virtual exhibition‭.

Junia Elli Jorgji, Chief of Design, National Gallery of Canada

Thursday, 26 April, 6 - 7 pm - Design as Connector: Using the example of the redesign of the Canadian and Indigenous galleries at the National Gallery of Canada‭, ‬this talk shares lessons about how design can be used for inclusivity‭, ‬social awareness‭, ‬and accessibility to a broad and diverse global audience‭.‬‭

These talks are open for everyone to attend and will be located at Amman Design Week's new space.