Rooftops of Amman into your home: interview with the designer Tanja Haddad & her home collection for IKEA

Imagine a flying carpet that takes you straight to Amman, Jordan. Imagine that you see, from above, the old houses, the silver tins, the greenery on the rooftops… And, what if you can see all of these right into your house, on the most beautiful deco line, a collaboration between IKEA and the Jordanian designer, Tanja Haddad? Soon, the LOKALT collection is going fill our houses with wonderful pieces. Therefore, I talked with Tanja Haddad, the amazing fashion & interior designer about the collection for IKEA, about the Amman spirit and plans for the future. 

LOKALT will be launched in 294 stores on 25 IKEA markets in June 2021 –

The designers of LOKALT are: the duo Ploypan Theerachai and Decha Archjananun based in Bangkok, Tania Haddad from Amman, and IKEA in-house designer Akanksha Deo who is based in Delhi. 

Follow Tanja Haddad and her collections – @taniageorgedesigns.

Tanja, nice to e-meet you! And congratulations for the collection! How does your collection for IKEA look like? On what kind of objects we are going to see your prints?

It is so nice to see everything coming together after two years! I almost forgot about it! 😉 The collection includes three pillows and one throw. Amman is a very special city – beautiful and charming and a bit chaotic with all the people, the colourful cars, the small alleyways and the rooftops that double as living rooms. Everybody uses the rooftops as viewpoints, to take their mind off the problems. You don’t see this view everywhere in the world. In Amman, on the rooftops, people have everything – water tanks, sometimes the TVs, the chairs – basically the entire living room is there. So, this kind of viewpoint is very representative for Amman, and I thought it is kind of wonderful to start from these Jordanians rooftops to draw the illustrations for the IKEA collection.

How did the illustrations came to life on IKEA collection? 

After the workshop we (designers invited) had, as a brainstorming meeting for the IKEA collection, I came up with this idea – rooftops, viewpoints, communal places on rooftops. So I met with the women from Jordan River Foundation (the foundation I work with). Then, I’ve started walking in the area where the centre is situated and I’ve realised how related were all the things – all around this area were beautiful viewpoints and old houses – exactly as the illustrations I had in my mind. 

We’ll gonna see the whole culture of Amman on one pillow…

The viewpoints of Jordan, yes. And, looking at the throw with its hand-embroidered details is like taking a tour of the old part of Amman. Here you find the water tanks, the satellite dishes and the oasis of greenery.

Tanja Haddad

You worked for LOKALT with local artisans, as you’ve working already for your personal brand (the brand tagline – “Clothes for a Cause”). Why is so important that you give them this chance? And what is the major significance of this collaboration? 

I wanted to work with a brand that will have an impact for these people. I wanted the things to be made by hand, in Jordan, by Jordanians, people living in the area. And of course, people that needed the help. My fashion brand is small, I collaborate with a small bunch of people. In this project for IKEA I wanted to combine the modern design with the traditional embroidery. I worked with Jordan River Foundation. And you might think – oh, you help these people because they do not have jobs or other things, but honestly… they are helping me. They are helping me to present the things that I like, to document the Jordanian customs, to preserve the culture. I love the combination of modern and traditional, I think it is a nice mix. 

How many local shops & families were involved in this project? 

In IKEA project were involved 240 people. It was so nice to work with them! When I showed them the drawings for the collections, they were amazed, they were giggling, giving me opinions, what to add what not to add…. I put in one of my drawings a bra hanging outside, on the laundry rope, and they were laughing. 🙂 It was very funny and emotional to work with them. (With the IKEA Social Entrepreneur initiative, IKEA has developed products with artisans since 2013. Today so far, over 30 000 jobs have been created for artisans and small farm holders.)

How do you blend tradition and modernity in your designs? 

What I bring to the table is the modern aspect – the illustrations. In my designs, in general, I like to make the illustrations a bit childish. But through the techniques of the embroidery I bring the traditional aspect into the pieces. 

What is the piece you love most from the IKEA & Tanja collection? 

From the pieces I have designed I really love the blanket – I think it represents Amman and the life in this wonderful city. But, honestly, I like the whole collection – the colours are amazing; I love the ceramics and from the Indian collection I like the carpets a lot. I am actually thinking of e-mailing them to send me some pieces in advance. 🙂 

What is the message that you want to send through this collection?

It’s basically bringing out the beauty in Jordan. We want to show people how beautiful Jordan is. 

It is not your first collab – you worked with young Arab designers/artists (like Cheb Moha and Wifi Rider). What’s the collab you wish to do next?

I am really excited about the IKEA collection and I hope it’s going really well; I would love to collaborate with them again for a new deco line. There are so many story I want to express through drawings and embroidery! My next step concerning my fashion line will be launching a new collection – it will also have a story about Jordan. 

What is the object of interior design you wish you had invented? 

Oh, invented?! Tough one! I am a fashion designer, so basically my interest is in textile area. For example, I loved to design the pillows, but it was very challenging to make the throw – to see how the back side, the front side and the tassels are coming together. I am passionate for textile, therefore anything textile, embroidery, prints … I go crazy for! 

About Tanja Haddad we should know… 

Basically, my idea is to tell stories. Not any stories, but life stories about Jordan. I want to show people that we are fun, hospitable; come visit Jordan, is so much to see here! Not only the traditional stuff, there are so many young talents here! 

Tania Haddad was born in Amman, Jordan, in 1989. She started her career by studying fashion in Italy. Today she runs her fashion brand Tania George from Amman and London.

Photography: IKEA