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Between the worlds
by Franziska Holzmann | 1/21/2009

Isfahan - A deep bow, enlightenment, not to mention amazement are what strike you in view of the city's cultural treasures. Incredible difference in space, time and what is experienced. From the hot narrow nooks and crannies in the bazaar, suddenly Imam Square opens up before you: built at the end of the 16th century, it is gigantic in scale (512x159 meters) and thus the world's third largest square. In its arcades you will find the most beautiful mosques and palaces, as proud as they are humble. With such astonishingly fine and ingenious details as to stun even the hardest-nose designer. You invariably find yourself confronted by the fact that Islamic ornamentation seems to us Europeans to be highly modern and minimalist when compared with our own art and cultural history. So how do designers and architects in today's Iran and in the Islamic world in general see it? What is the current understanding of these marvelous forms that developed over centuries? And where is contemporary design to be found here? We go hunting. The garish children's toys, the polyester fashion from the Far East, and the traditional restaurant are not where it's at. A fundamental melancholy rises in me, and nascent thoughts are becoming more global again: Where are those past times to be found in design today, those former sensitivities and that perfection?! The answers have not yet been forthcoming. Wait and see, and drink a tea. And that is definitely something you can do superbly in Isfahan with its inspiring and human atmosphere.

Iran Esfahan Imam-Square; All photos © Franziska Holzmann
Iran Esfahan Imam-Square; All photos © Franziska Holzmann
Iran Esfahan Jameh-Mosque
Iran Esfahan Jameh-Mosque
Iran Esfahan Jameh-Mosque
Imam Square with Sheikh-Lotfollah-Mosque
Imam-Square
Imam-Square Entrance to the Basar
Esfahan
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Esfahan Basar
Esfahan
Esfahan
Abbasi Hotel
Ali-Qapu-Palace musicroom
Abbasi Hotel
Abbasi Hotel
Basar
Esfahan
chop maker
Abbasi Hotel
Iran Esfahan Jameh-Mosque
Iran Esfahan Jameh-Mosque
Iran Esfahan Jameh-Mosque
Iran Esfahan Meidan-e-Emam-Mosque
Imam-Square Entrance to the Basar
Meidan-e-Emam-Mosque
Esfahan
Esfahan
Esfahan
Esfahan
Esfahan
Esfahan
Abbasi Hotel
Abbasi Hotel
Abbasi Hotel
Meidan-e-Emam-Mosque
Esfahan
Inlay works by Mohammad-Heirami
Drapery
Si-O-Se-Bridge