Pentagram has designed a new website for Abeer Seikaly, an award-winning Jordanian architect, artist and cultural producer, and a respected emerging voice from the Arab region.
Describing herself as an “interdisciplinary creative thinker and maker”, Seikaly takes a cyclical approach to how she works, maintaining a constant dialogue that seeks to challenge our perceptions and understanding of time, materiality and women’s role in a patriarchal society.
Reflecting the way Seikaly approaches her practice, the site is not designed to be explored in a linear way. All the elements – from the design to the user interface and icons – combine to make it the antithesis of a traditional portfolio site. One of the reasons for this is that due to the scope of her work, people arrive at the site from many different starting points. The website needed to reflect Seikaly’s wide range of projects and preoccupations.
Seikaly is a lifelong diarist, using her writing to interrogate the themes and narratives running through her work and life. This commitment to writing is directly reflected in the navigation – when visitors reach the site, instead of a list of completed work, they are introduced to a series of questions, each of which relates to one of Seikaly's projects.
These questions include ‘Is Architecture a Social Technology?’ which examines her ongoing Weaving a Home project about creating homes for displaced communities, and ‘How is modernity affecting the way we live and interact with the natural world?’ which features her Matters of Time video piece, created for the Man-Made Disaster initiative and looking at matriarchal architecture in the context of the tent-making women of Jordanian Bedouin tribes.
The design has an editorial feel with images and text layered to give a collaged look, reflecting Seikaly’s love of collecting and her prolific diary writing. While all of the pages are created using templates, there are a sufficient number of options to give a less rigid, more spontaneous feel to the site’s layout.
Forgoing standard web design conventions, there is no search feature – instead, visitors are invited to enter into a dialogue and are encouraged to discover the content for themselves. The simple, intuitive navigation and circular scrolling make the site easy to navigate while still feeling intriguing and content-rich.
Pentagram’s design team worked closely with Abeer Seikaly to develop the ‘Questions’ concept, then structuring the narrative around the pieces, and overseeing the design. The new site is a very personal glimpse into Seikaly’s works and thoughts, and gives her the space to explore and share these within a structured and engaging framework.