GDE720 – Week 2: interpretation

To start off this week, I wanted to compare a collection of designs of the name ‘Amman’ as imagined by various contemporary designers.

Amman Design Week

The Amman Design Week logo, designed by eyen, is comprised of 2 distinct parts: a wordmark made up of two different typefaces. The one in Arabic was specially designed for the platform, and was aptly named ADW. The other part is an abstraction of the Arabic letter-forms that make up the word عمّان (Amman). As a part of the inaugural launch of this design week, designers were invited to tag the logo with their interpretation of the city’s name in Arabic. This resulted in four main entries which were selected to be printed on merchandise that was sold during the week. (El-Mousa, 2016)

Diala Hamdallah – “Diala Hamdallah adopts the Diwani script; an age-old classic that is unassuming. She find in it a resemblance to Amman, being traditional but dynamic, and embellished yet beautiful.”
Hussein Alazaat – “Hussein Alazaat’s option demonstrates the energetic city that always surprises you; a young and funky city that is a hub for many disconnected elements, coming together to form what we know as Amman.”
Dina Fawakhiri – “Dina Fawakhiri’s script reflects the funny contradictions that define Amman; the predictable uniform beige houses and the random trees in unexpected places, the super serious faces that make the best memes, and all the rules that are never followed.”
Lutfi Zayed – “Lutfi Zayed’s work is the embodiment of the fluidity he finds in the city.”

Lesser Amman Library

Source: https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/turbo-lesser-amman-library-identity-graphic-design-250919

The Lesser Amman Library logo and branding was designed by Turbo, a design duo from Jordan. Their approach to the logo was a very experimental one. From an article on It’s Nice That, Saeed Abu-Jaber explains, “Although we started with a more classical calligraphic visual direction, we decided to go ahead with an experimental approach with the type. Experimental type is a practice that was more widespread in the past [in Jordan], and is something we miss seeing in the city in general.” (Snoad, 2019)

They reference the Greater Amman Municipality both in name and logo style. (Snoad, 2019)

The original logo for the Greater Amman Municipality, featuring an abstraction of the Roman Amphitheatre, a major landmark of Amman. Source: @ZaidSbeitan

Greater Amman Municipality

Although this was brought up in my previous blog post, it’s important to follow up Turbo’s logo design with Syntax’s design for GAM.

Source: Syntax

The two main features of this logo are the new typeface designed for the city, by German designer Yanone, and the illustration of the 7 hills, the number of hills the city was originally built on. The shaddeh, a diacritic indicating stress on the M sound, resembles a bird.

Dark Room Amman

Another new addition to Amman’s arts and culture scene is Dark Room Amman, an experimental photography studio that opened its doors in 2020.

Source: @darkroomamman

The logo and branding was designed by Ali Almasri, a Jordanian type designer known for his immense efforts in diversifying and modernizing contemporary Arabic typography through his type foundry Abjad.

Source: @DarkRoomAmman

The front facade of the studio features the ‘meem’ cropped from the word “Amman” in Arabic, with its signature hamzah, for what I can only imagine is the identifying factor in Arabic between the country Oman and our city.

Source: @DarkRoomAmman

Ali Almasri also collaborated with calligrapher Shehadeh Haroon for the signage, a reoccurring feature of his work to integrate craftsmanship with contemporary design.

Zaid Sbeitan

Zaid is a Jordan architect and type designer based in Germany. His experimentation with typography has become a centerpiece for quite a few cultural projects as of late. His type play with the word “Amman” in Arabic has been especially interesting and I wanted to show you a few examples here:

There is certainly an architectural quality in all of these examples, showing how the letterforms can be morphed in the 3D space while still retaining the ability to be immediately recognizable.

Abeer Anabtawi

Abeer is a Jordanian illustrator and graphic designer whose work has become a mainstay in contemporary internet culture from the country. Her recent explorations of the name “Amman” in her unique handwriting, juxtaposed against her photographic recordings of the city, are an interesting look into another interpretation of what the city could mean to a designer.


As I move through this week, I would ideally like to explore what it means to interpret a city’s name through typography, and what it would particularly mean for Amman. The big question for me today is if I should separate my personal style from the challenge, or embrace it as these other designers have done.

Reference list

El-Mousa, A. (2016). The Democratization of Our Logo. [online] Amman Design Week. Available at: https://ammandesignweek.com/media/news/design-is-for-everyone-the-democratization-of-the-amman-design-week-logo [Accessed 31 Jan. 2022].

Snoad, L. (2019). Turbo’s identity for the Lesser Amman Library is a masterclass in the potential of Arabic type. [online] http://www.itsnicethat.com. Available at: https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/turbo-lesser-amman-library-identity-graphic-design-250919.

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