“I have a vision of communities empowered to cultivate their own wellbeing and dignity; inspiring practical living spaces in symbiosis with nature.”
Abeer Seikaly is a Jordanian-Palestinian interdisciplinary thinker and maker, who works across architecture, design, fine art, and cultural production.
Her practice is deeply rooted in the processes of memory and cultural empowerment, expressing architecture as a social technology that has the power to redefine how we engage with and within space. Challenging traditional notions of belonging and identity, her works are in constant dialogue with perceptions and contemporary understandings of time, materiality, and the role that women play in a patriarchal structure. Her recent works center indigenous Bedouin knowledge and practices, to recover the intimacy of handmaking—lost in today’s production. She has been regularly traveling to Jordan’s Badia (desert), where she engages in Bedouin women’s craftsmanship of textile weaving and tent making.
In 2002, she received her Bachelor of Architecture and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. After pursuing her architecture career in luxury retail design and mixed-use developments, her work increasingly began to reflect a tactile sensitivity to the consciousness within the objects and spaces she crafts. In 2012, Abeer won The Rug Company’s Middle East Wallhanging Design Competition, for exploring the duality between nostalgia and the labor of new craft. And, in the following year, she was awarded the international Lexus Design Award, for a performative structural system that explored the social implications of creating homes for displaced communities.
In 2015, she co-founded and co-directed Amman Design Week, a participatory learning initiative that seeks to promote and foster a culture of design and collaboration in Jordan. And, in 2018, she established ālmamar, a cultural experience and residency program. It is situated in an abandoned 53 m² 3-bedroom house (built 1957) in Amman. From culinary experiences to interactive exhibitions and events, ālmamar reflects on the evolution of traditional values, critical arts practice, and the notion of transience, within the context of Jordan.
A lifelong diarist, Abeer continues to ‘read backwards while writing forwards’ in order to surface and interrogate themes and narratives that echo her work and life.
In addition to numerous features, her works have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Science Museum in London, the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) in Vienna, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Her latest exhibitions include: Shelter (2022–2023) at CVPA Swain Gallery (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) in New Bedford, USA; Re-rooting (2022) at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan; The Year 2121: Futures In-Sight (2021) at The Miyake Issey Foundation in Tokyo, Japan; La Manufacture: A Labour of Love (2020) at Gare Saint Sauveur Cultural Institute in Lilles, France; and Radical Curiosity. In the Orbit of Buckminster Fuller (2020) at Espacio Fundación Telefónica in Madrid, Spain.
Her works can be found in multiple private and public collections, such as Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah (in Amman, Jordan) and Barjeel Art Foundation (in Sharjah, UAE). Abeer is also a frequent speaker, panelist, and visiting lecturer. In the Fall of 2021, Abeer was appointed as the Louis I. Kahn Visiting Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Architecture. It was an endowed professorship, where she taught an advanced graduate Architectural Design Studio, titled Conscious Skins. Most recently, she was announced as a lead participant at the upcoming Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023.
Watch her TEDxKlagenfurt talk here.
Watch her Yale School of Architecture lecture here.