AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: February 2014 (Page 1 of 2)

What happens when those hobbits and dwarves we love are women?

We start loving them oh, so much more.

Here are some gorgeous shots of women portraying the characters from the Hobbit, photographed by Alexander Turchanin:

gender

You can view the rest on io9, place of awesomeness.

Do Jordanians Smile? Looks Like the Answer is Yes! Another Happy Amman Video

This one was created by the BeAmman team.

Ikea Opening in Amman on March 6th

So the date is public… Ikea is opening on March 6 :)

Pharrell Williams — Happy; Amman Version

This is nice :)

There’s also going to be another Happy video released made by the BeAmman team in the next few days. It’s like a happy, dancey, musical virus!

A short, romantic history of blogging in the Arab world (and on meeting the last two bloggers on my list)

Amira is from Bahrain. Ahmed is from Saudi Arabia. I’m obviously Jordanian.

The three of us have many things in common, but for the sake of this post, it is one underlying factor that combines us all: we all started blogging in 2004.

I started AndFarAway. Ahmed started Saudi Jeans. Amira started Silly Bahraini Girl.

The date is very important, because unless you were super online in 2004, you probably can’t recall how early it was in the life of the social web. 2004 was a time before Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It was a time when the mere idea of sharing your thoughts with strangers on the web was considered crazy. It was a time when there were just a handful of bloggers in the Arab world, and we all knew one another very well and were often in touch.

Blogging was different than what it is today. It was a niche and difficult enough interest to be a major combining factor between bloggers, a deep insight into our characters as humans. If you were a blogger in those early days, you were either a GNU geek or a romantic lover of self-expression. I was the latter, so were Amira and Ahmed. We got along well, and we “blogged” at each other all the time. In fact, one of my favorite blog posts in the world is a letter that Ahmed wrote to me in 2006.

The years passed and I met almost every blogger worth meeting in the Arab world, but I was somehow never in the same country as Amira and Ahmed.

Then in the past month, a whole whopping ten years later, we finally managed to meet. I met Amira in Amman, and Ahmed in Dubai, and what fun it was!

amira
Amira and I

ahmed
Ahmed and I

Naser is one of my very good friends, and we initially met through blogging in 2006. Yesterday, we were discussing how easy it is these days to become friends with people you meet on the Internet. Somehow, the boundary between reality and the digital life have become so thin, even for people who are not really online. We worked hard for meeting, at some point in time, so it was so lovely meeting both Ahmed and Amira.

Video: Bayt.com is happy, happy, happy, and here’s a dance to prove it

We’re happy every day, to be working on helping people lead better lives :) To put the cherry on top, we just won the Great Places to Work award for the 4th year in a row.

Do you want to work at Bayt.com? Check out available vacancies here.

20 Years Later… Jordanian Band Mirage is Back, Totally Embracing 2014

I was only eight-years-old when Mirage release their famous single, “Tigool Ahwak”.

It was 1994, and the single was one of the first, if not the first, alternative Arabic music experiments. It’s a song that actually stayed cool, even in 2012 when I wrote about it.

Imagine my surprise when I get sent a link to the video below… Mirage, 2014, released a completely remade “Tigool Ahwak”.

It is AWESOME. You would expect the musicians to look old, tired, and potbellied. You would expect them to sound 1994, in a cute, 90’s-nostalgia way. You would expect the video to be something hilarious, especially if you’re familiar with the original one.

Oh, no.

Mirage will have none of that.

The song is completely different. The guys obviously started liking rock in these last 20 years where they have been hiding. And the rock sounds AWESOME. Heavy guitar riffs, drums, and solos…

The band themselves also look so much cooler and fresher than most Jordanian bands half their age.

Great job, Mirage.

And in case you’re curious, here’s the original single, 1994:

What’s it like inside Europe’s largest photo studio? IKEA Communications AB

With my life-long fascination with design, layout, and the Ikea catalog, it was absolutely awesome getting a chance to visit the IKEA studio in Almhult.

Not only are all Ikea roomsets you’ll ever see in your life done in the 8,000 square meter space, it’s also where the catalog is created, where all the photos are taken, and where the 3D artists sit. Did you take yesterday’s quiz? Were you able to guess which of the roomsets is shot in the studio and which was created by the 3D artists?

design team

Our tour was started by meeting Anne-Lene Wold, the Interior Design Manager at IKEA, and Kajsa Orvarson, the Information Manager. They showed us the little quiz (I was the only one who guessed all three images correctly, yay for the 3D Max classes we were forced to take in college), and then took us on a tour around the studio, which includes a hundred million gazillion props from all over the world, tens of roomsets being shot for next year’s calendar, and the working spaces of many of the creative people at IKEA.

My favorite part though about the studio? All the props.

I’ve always had a fascination with how Ikea makes such livable furniture. You know, livability isn’t something you buy with the flatpacked bed, nor is it a magic ingredient sprinkled into the wood or plastic.

Livability is a carefully-studied act of conscious design.

In a way, it’s similar to food styling (my latest obsession), and trying to make things look “yum”. It’s also a practical application of visual order and visual chaos, another topic I’m obsessed with.

Ikea are masters at perfecting livability. They somehow manage to take brand new furniture, shove it into a studio, and turn it into something that could easily be the much-loved home of a 26-year-old woman who works in marketing at a local restaurant. It’s genius.

For example, look at these rooms, shot in a cold, neon-lit, aluminum studio:

1

2

3

Are you kidding me? These are studio shots? When can I move into any of these rooms? I don’t mind living in a studio if my room looks like that.

Just look at these images. The way the shoes on the floor make you feel like someone just stepped out of the room. The way the books look so loved. The artwork so lovingly collected.

Holy cow, it’s hard to explain how difficult faking livability is.

With that in mind, I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY with Ikea’s rooms and rooms and rooms of props.

Check this out:

robots
Cute robots of all sizes

food
Different food items from all over the world to make kitchens universally appealing in the ctatalog

random stuff
Random items to spice up the rooms

brushes
Brushes and make up to make a girl’s room look like a girl’s room

sculptures
Sculptures for use in design

necklsaces
Hundreds of necklaces to suit every female in the universe

scarves
Scarves of all colors to be tossed on that bed or hung somewhere

shoes with leaves
This blew my mind… shoes with leaves glued on. Someone was just raking the leaves in the fall

ikea books
Color-coded books, baybee

ikea studio
A room in the making

So yes… this is the art and science behind the Ikea catalog. How amazing is this?

Can you tell which of these Ikea rooms is real and which is 3D?

Here’s a little pop quiz for you.

These are three images of Ikea rooms. One is completely real, one is completely 3D, and one is half 3D and half real. Can you guess which is which? And don’t give me any excuse about them being photos of photos… some of my friends already guessed correctly :)

Ikea, 3D or not?

Ikea, 3D or not?

Ikea, 3D or not?

We were given this pop quiz at the IKEA Communication studio in Almhult, Sweden.

Review: Food Box Co.

Yesterday, the guys over at Food Box Co. sent me some things to try out. It was quite a pleasant experience.

I always loved the noodle-box concept, because it’s simple, quick, and easy-to-eat in an office environment. Food Box Co. delivers very well on that front… the branding is crisp, the die-cut of the boxes is absolutely gorgeous, and the experience is fuss-free and delicious at the same time.

My favorite item from the meals I tried was the spicy Chinese rice with peanuts and vegetables. I’m even already craving it; strongly recommended if you like spicy food.

To try Food Box Co., you can find them on the First Circle, or contact them at 079-979-8967.

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