October 18th, 2009
In this post we are going to share with you our experience in designing the floats of Amman’s Centennial parade
When we joined the efforts of organizing this parade it was the first time for us to go into such kind of projects. In fact it was the first time for everyone in Jordan. Although it was not within our core business but we found it interesting as kharabeesh to tell the story of Amman through a parade, and not through animation or comic.
Kharabeesh was lucky to be part of an amazing corporate coalition along with GAM to organize Amman’s first parade, IJordan with their long experience in event management, in addition to OrangeRed and their magical cultural practice and knowledge.
It was assigned to Kharabeesh to be the creative and design arm to handle branding, communication and all media materials as well as designing the floats of the parade and that was the most interesting part. The fact that we all came from an architectural background, helped us a lot in the design and supervision process of building the floats.
During the research we came to some rare photos of small floats used in the Golden Jubilee carnival in late 70s. The float seems pretty interesting. And it was amazing to see that Amman at one point used to celebrate like this, but never been repeated again. Floats used to be almost the same design; a box with flowers and his majesty portrait on the top of the vehicle.
Coming up with a theme for the parade was the first step to agree on, so that the whole organization and work will be based on it. The theme was about the historical representation of Amman’s life in 100 years. The parade was divided into to 10 decades. Each decade represented by a float and different types of units, each float represents the major achievements of that specific decade, and that was our reference.
One of the earlier sketches for the parade
The next step is to decide the major achievement on each decade, a research has been conducted and the final list was the following:
- Starting from 1909: The establishment of Amman’s first municipal council; Majlis al baladiyeh.
- 20’s: The arrival of king Abdulla I into Amman, and the train and cabin used by King Abdullah as an office.
- 30’s: Street vendors, and the development of most of Amman’s “souk”’s, such as “Souq Al Bukharieh, al sukkar, al dahab, mango,,,”
- 40’s: Education and schools revolution..
- 50’s: Utilities in Amman were developed, water, electricity..etc.
- 60’s: Launching JRTV and Sports and arts nourished.
- 70’s: There was a boost in the numbers of profession, establishment of naqabat and the medical city; this decade reflects the advancement of the professional world in Jordan
- 80’s: Celebrating the opening of the Queen Alia International airport as well as the infrastructural work that took place in Amman with roads and bridges.
- 90’s: The change and evolvement of Amman culture and community
- Now: 10 years of Kings Abdulla II achievements
The parade route made some limitations on the design of the floats. The decision was made that the parade must be in the heart of Amman. On the road were everything started for modern Amman, from downtown to Municipality building in Ras Al Ain. This route forced many technical limitations to us. We couldn’t go higher than 4.5 meters due to bridges and wires. And we could not exceed a width of 2.5 meters due to the narrow streets and curved route.
Away from the conceptual part, we started building the float beds which will carry the float’s models and props on them. There were two kinds of floats, floats that is self moving (self propelled), and the other one is towed floats. We had to go with the towed because it was within our capabilities.
After searching GAM vehicles, we couldn’t find any suitable flat bed, or anything similar to what we needed, so we had to design the steel structure for the flat bed that will carry the float and, and coordinate to have load test, considering reasonable safety factor.
Floats must be fun and reflecting a festive spirit. Kids must enjoy watching them and remember them when they grow up. It was the first time for us to design a float, we scanned and researched many floats made in other countries and we took our manufacturing capabilities and cost in consideration as all floats must be built by local suppliers and there were no float builders in Jordan.
So we started by taking each subject and translate it into visual elements and props. One tip was useful to us is that when designing a float, exaggeration is a key element in design. Taking small objects and enlarge them would look interesting in a float.
We also wanted to inject elements that can stimulate the memories of the Ammanies and feel connected to it, inspired by our local culture and lifestyle that we all shared when we were young.
Leave room for improvisation
In float design it’s very important to consider decorations. Plants and flowers can add life to floats. You can also make use of real live props and objects which can enrich the visual appearance of the float. These decorative elements can give more flexibility to the design after production.
After finalizing the conceptual design sketches, these sketches are converted into workshop drawings with proper scale and measurements so that float builders will be able to build the models and finalize the float.
Building the floats
Floats were built by local workshops in Amman, some of them were specialized in stage setups and TV studio’s decorations, and others were regular carpenters and blacksmiths. In general we did not expect much at the beginning, but at the end they did an amazing job which exceeded our expectations and made us think to go further next year if we got the chance. Some floats took two weeks and others took days. And the process of building kept going to the last few minutes of the parade.
This parade was a learning experience for everyone, including the people of Amman. I am sure next year will be bigger and better. We’ve learned so many stuff along the way and with time and experience; Amman will witness a new amazing way to celebrate its legacy.