Would you like to know more about Typographic Matchmaking in the City? Jan de Bruin made a documentary about it for the Khatt Foundation, Center for Arabic Typography

Multicultural typography

Font designers combine Western and Arabic scripts
The streets are increasingly filled with logos and advertisements both in the Western and Arab worlds. It makes all cities look the same. According to graphic designer Huda AbiFarès, the relationship between typography and architecture has been lost. Can we win back public space from the commercial world by introducing a new script consisting of multicultural letters and symbols? Can this script attract people and change a city’s atmosphere?

Typographic Matchmaking

We can do better! When Huda AbiFarès saw the signs on the streets of Dubai with two languages (Arabic and English) she started thinking about alternatives. Even though Western and Arabic societies are integrating, the Arabic and Latin scripts on the signs are still unconnected and completely separate. With her project Typographic Matchmaking in the City she brought together Western and Arabic font designers, graphic designers and architects to explore the opportunities for integrating both scripts. The outcome of their typography experiments are presented in a wonderful book to be published in the spring of 2012.

Dot script

Designers René Knip, Khajag Apelian and Jeroen van Erp wondered what would happen if they combined Arabic and Latin letters? They developed a method to create and mix Arab and Latin fonts. Now, both Arabic and Latin letters can be distilled from one script. This dual-script is called Nuqat, which literally means ‘dots’.

An Arabic Souk

According to font designer Pascal Zoghbi it is unusal for the Arab world to use typography just for fun or as an experiment. He developed the Hamsa font with Erik van Blokland and Joumana al Jabri. In Beirut, where people prefer to speak English or French, they sprayed “I love Arabic” on the walls with graffiti letters. They also experimented with imaginary projection of Arab and English texts on the domed ceiling of an Arabic Souk.

El Hema

Will traditional Dutch department stores look like Islamic shops soon? What would an Arabic Hema be like? Selling halal smoked sausage, Arabic chocolate letters and affordable headscarfs? In 2007 Mediamatic attracted a great deal of attention with their Arabic Hema. One of the reasons was to introduce five new Arabic fonts together with the Khatt Foundation. But also to show us how visual culture affects us and to encourage cultural exchanges between the Western and Arab worlds. Initially, the Hema was not very happy with this initiative, but they changed their minds and even became a member of the jury choosing the best El Hema products.