Swiss designers cross paths in Amman

Pro Helvetia Cairo, Design

Nadia El Hindi and Samira Vogel crossed path while in residency at the MMAG Foundation in Amman, Jordan. Samira completed the first part of her residency at Dar Jacir in Ramallah, Palestine in September 2023, exploring local traditional weaving techniques.

Their paths converged in March when Samira arrived in Amman to complete her residency. This meeting of their journeys allowed them to participate in a wide range of activities, connecting with local artists, practitioners, and artisans. These experiences laid the groundwork for potential future collaborations. While both designers shared design as a common discipline, their residencies’ focus led them to develop distinct approaches.

Remember Jordan

Nadia worked on researching and documenting Orientalist perspectives in tourism, focusing on the impacts of these projections on the local landscape and cultural heritage. Utilizing photography and interviews, she also furthered her research through scientific and historical writings on themes such as cultural identity, the symbolism of souvenir objects, origins of mass tourism, and orientalist representations constructed by the West. 

She aimed to provide an open and benevolent observation of the production and dissemination of stereotyped symbols laden with meanings and responsibilities. This tension is particularly evident in the creation of folkloric images instrumentalized by capitalism. After that, Nadia produced an initial synthesis of this research through a paper publication in collaboration with a graphic designer based in Amman.

Fibers of resistance, weaving conversations

Samira weaving on the ground loom in her studio space at MMAG Foundation
© George Goss

Samira’s exploration of the textile industry was not just a research project but a deeply personal journey. Starting from the raw material, woolen fiber, she unraveled the profound connection of local communities with their landscape and sheep. Her encounters with sheepskin, sheep optic, and wool products became a recurring theme throughout her residency which explored the profound significance of Palestinian textiles in the context of resistance. In Mukawer, a village near Madaba in Jordan, she learned to set up the ground loom from scratch, a process that symbolized the community’s determination to rebuild and create. Samira also facilitated a workshop with Julina Vanille Bezold at Jadal Space for Culture and Knowledge in Amman.  They introduced a material library and facilitated collective weaving sessions with local participants.

Weaving Workshop “Reimagining Looms - Interweaving (dis)placed ecologies and narratives” at Jadal Space for Culture and Knowledge in collaboration with Julina Vanille Bezold
© George Goss

In a small publication, she weaved together her experiences, conversations, images, textiles, and the words of the people she met, creating a rich tapestry of her research and encounters.

Biographies

Nadia El-hindi is a designer from Geneva. Her interest in cultural heritage and customs has greatly developed since obtaining her bachelor’s degree in industrial design from ECAL. She pays attention to the details of objects, atmospheres, and everyday habits. For several years, Nadia has been involved in various associative environments to advocate for the issues of different projects close to her heart. Seeking to combine creativity and social work, she is particularly engaged in projects and local structures that promote a multidisciplinary approach and collective reflection.

Samira Vogel is a weaver, artist and educator from Switzerland. She completed her Masters at the Sandberg Institute. She previously studied Art and Design Education at the Zurich University of the Arts and Textile Design in Bangalore, India. She uses weaving not only as a material and carrier of stories but also as a method and a tool to think through different processes of making and being. Samira explores the nature of collectivity by creating interactive weaving installations. She is involved in The Linen Project, where the ecological, material, and social processes of cultivating flax are collectively explored.