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Local Design Enlivens the Street

Wajha is bringing top-notch pro-bono design and branding to small businesses that otherwise couldn’t afford it. Founded by Hussein Alazaat and Ali Almasri, who fund all projects themselves, Wajha—”façade” or “interface” in Arabic–aims to create an indigenous, well-integrated street aesthetic in underprivileged areas of Amman, one shop at a time.

Completed projects include crafting a streamlined visual identity for a popular deaf-mute tailor’s shop and tailoring an integrated set of visuals for a family-owned bookshop. For Wisam Barbershop in Alzarqa City, they created a visual identity inspired by vintage Arabic actors and their distinctive mustaches, in homage to their role in shaping Arabic culture.

In Alzarqa, Jordan’s second largest city, “any understanding of design and its role in our daily life is completely absent, and visual pollution is even worse than in Amman,” Almasri says. “So, one goal was to integrate good design while introducing design and its culture in this city.”

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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