Anknownymous Talent | Interview with Yazan Hijazin
Starting as an investment banker in Jordan, Yazan Hijazin followed his childhood dreams and soon became a well-known designer, retail consultant and, eventually, a professor. Pursuing his passion for retail and design, he studied visual merchandising, he founded his design studio “Anknownymous” in 2010, and in 2015 he moved to Spain.
MiND met Yazan in Madrid to talk about his eclectic, urban-modern and conceptual style.
Yazan always saw himself designing since he was a child, he preferred to put his energies into sketching products, concepts, structures than anything else. “Despite my father’s will to see his son become a doctor, I ended up studying accounting and investment management, which actually relates to the process of design. You structure a portfolio based on certain favorite elements, you create your own process to increase its value and after a while you see your own results.” After 10 years of greenfield asset management experience, he then chose to pursue design relying on his passion and raw talent. The only thing he was certain about was that he was obsessed with creating structures that he hasn’t seen before and marrying new materials together like wood and copper, which eventually gave birth to his first piece -the benchark bench.
“Furniture design and interior design are quite similar, at the end of the day I design for the experience”
Yazan shared with us how he started his career without any experience. “It was hard to sell myself as a designer with 10 years of asset management under my belt. I have created some bespoke furniture pieces with the help of 3D technicians and I remember talking to a woman, at a farewell party for a friend, about my passion for design and my 3D portfolio. Around ten days later, she invited me to her office, and it turns out she was the owner of Orient Gallery – a very important gallery in Amman, Jordan. She asked me to design a piece of furniture for a new location she was moving to where people could sit and decide what painting they were going to buy. I used things like women’s hair accessories and kitchen foil to create 3 prototypes that would help to explain my ideas. I designed the “Benchark” like a tree log sculpture because it was going to be in an art gallery. I showed her the very basic prototype and she loved it. Three months later, my first client was very happy with the results. That was the day that my journey started as a designer and entrepreneur.”
With his life long goal to live in Spain, Yazan arrived in Barcelona in 2015, where he learned the language and gradually exposed himself to retail, starting with a postgraduate course in retail and visual merchandising from the university of BAU.
When Yazan entered the design industry he was completely “anonymous”, but with a desire to have his pieces very well “known”. Therefore, he started his own Jordanian spatial design studio, “Anknownymous”, focusing on bespoke furniture, interior accessories, and lighting design. He also wanted to create a platform where anonymous talents and emerging designers can collaborate. “I thrive on collaborations, I love them, and I think the world needs them”, explained Yazan.
“Personalisation is important – if I create something for a client, it has a piece of me and a piece of them in it.”
When we asked if the retail sector is changing, Yazan said that retail needs to adapt to the changes in customers’ life style. “Retailers need to change their strategies in order to adapt to a structural change. With the internet and social media, marketing and advertising has changed completely. Today as customers, we know more than salespeople do. Retailers need to focus on redefining their brand narrative and come up with a story that’s authentic, transparent, and truly theirs. According to Yazan, “everybody who sells to us needs to speak our own language, be where we are, and find a way to emotionally connect with us.”
Dining Table by Yazan Yijazin.
Among others, the designer shared with us his venture with the window dressing of Chamber Gyld design house, in Amman. Telling the story of a new brand that caters for local designers and with a limited budget, he collaborated with an architect friend of his to create a sculpture -similar to mannequins- on a human scale and put the mannequin on a ladder. During the opening of the store, customers were looking at the window staring at this theatrical simplicity. “It was like a theatre, an unfinished scene showing the painful journey of an emerging artist.”
The Jordanian designer explained how his concepts reflect the brand’s values and story, for example when he created a jewellery room for a brand selling antique jewellery from Jordanian and Palestinian heritage. “I suspended some metal faces from the ceiling placing them over headless mannequins, so the jewelry was displayed over a mannequin instead of closed glass shelves. On the opening night, the owner sold many of them because people were now seeing them as wearable objects, not decorative ones.”
“I think creativity is what retail needs nowadays.”
Helping retailers to grow by redesigning their in-store experiences is one of Yazan’s missions. “First, you need to have a crystal-clear vision of the experience you want to offer and then work backwards. Secondly, you need to know your client very well – you need to empathize with them, to create a persona that represents your client and to understand the client journey on all touch points within the brand.”
As for Yazan’s upcoming projects, he described one of his future concepts. “With two colleagues from my postgraduate, we came up with a disruptive concept that redefines the stationary businesses. Small and medium size stationary shops are boring, and those who include design and style to their shops separate stationary products by color. We saw an opportunity and we redefined a stationary business by introducing ‘DIYITAL’, which is Do It Yourself, but digitally speaking. The concept lies on the intersection of traditional stationary businesses, customization of online platforms, and all the emerging talents out there on social media.”
“The first encounter with a client is magical; it’s when all the ideas pop up in my mind”
“To make a difference, you have to connect emotionally with the client and exceed their expectations”
We at MiND would like to thank Yazan Hijazin for sharing his eclectic story with us and we wish him good luck with his DIYITAL project!