EL HEMA at Mediamatic, Amsterdam.

August was a great experience for five young Arabic graphic designers (fresh graduates) from the Arab world and I. The 24th of August was the “Khatt Kufi Kaffiya” symposium on Arabic Visual Culture, the official launching of the Khatt Foundation website and the launching and book signing of the Typographic Matchmaking book. Alongside these events, Mediamatic initiated an exhibition to team up Arabic typographers with Dutch design and culture. The exhibition was to create an Arabic version of the famous HEMA Dutch stores.

Design of the White Scarf by Kj using Sada Bold. The text on it is the lyrics or the song “YA Maré’ 3al Taya7een” for Fairuz.

Wael, Kj, Maria, Ray, Abi (the 5 young Arabic graphic designers) and I were invited by Mediamatic to come to Amsterdam for 6 weeks before the opening of the EL HEMA exhibition to work on the making of this exhibition. The aim of the exhibition was the put the 5 new Arabic typefaces of the TTM project (Fedra Arabic, Sada, Fresco Arabic, BigVesta Arabic and TheMix Arabic) to applications (items and products) that are going to be sold in the EL HEMA exhibition; and to create a culture awareness and exchange between the Arabic and Dutch cultures. Some of the products produced were Chocolate letters, Chocolate bars, Chocolate sprinkles, Wine bottles, Coffee bags, T-shirts, Socks, Underwear, Scarves, Djalabas, Condoms and other stuff.


The shelves of red wine bottles designed by Abi using Sada.

I was the design director and manager of the Arabic design team. It was a great experience to manage a big project like this and gain experience from the collaboration of the Arabic team with the Mediamatic team. Beside our team we had a fashion designer “Maika”, photographer “Marieke”, interior designer, exhibition organizer “Vari” and journalist “Joann” (and for sure not to forget the Directors of Mediamatic “Willem” and “Jans” and all the volunteers how helped). All of us collaborated to make the EL HEMA exhibition come true.

The Chocolate bars designed by KJ using TheMix Arabic and Sada.

Design of the Chocolate letters pack designed by Wael using Fedra Arabic.

Design of the coffee pack designed by kj using BigVista Arabic.

Design of Condoms pack by Abi using TheMix Arabic.

Design of the Djalaba pack by Raya using TheMix Arabic.

Design of a women’s underwear designed by Wael using Sada.

What was also interesting that besides doing the design work, we also modeled for the photo shoots and the fashion show. That was fun.

During the development of the El HEMA exhibition, the press took a great interest in the project and almost everyday we had journalists from Newspapers, television stations and radio stations come to mediamatic and interview us and have a look on what we are doing. Below is a list of some of the articles and interviews written about the EL HEMA on the following links:

De Pres
NRC Handelsblad
Amsterdam Weekly

Photo of the article in DePers newspaper.

Photo of several Newspapers with articles about El HEMA.

Channel 3
Channel At5
Zoomin tv

Wael speaking about the white scarf with Fairuz song “Ya Mari’ 3al tawahin” on it designed by Kj using Sada Bold.

Kj speaking about the Chocolate bars that he has designed using Fedra Arabic and Sada.

The opening of the El HEMA exhibition was a great success. Most of the products were sold out by Sunday (which is only two days from the opening). The Dutch people and tourists of Amsterdam just loved the Arabic adaptation of the HEMA products to Arabic and were interested with the new Arabic typefaces displayed in the environmental design of the exhibition and the Design of the products by themselves. A queue line was building up all day long on the entry of the exhibition. That was great. ☺

Opening day. Huge success.

Me wearing the white scarf with Sada on it. :)

The El Hema t-shirts.

As for the Arabic fonts that i was involved with:
1. I designed SADA as a companion type of Seria which is designed by Martin Majoor.
2. I finalized the design of TheMix Arabic Bold after Lucas de Groot and developed the TheMixArab Regular.

For more info and links about the EL HEMA exhibition, please have a look on the following links:
EL HEMA on ThePlace website
El Hema grand opening a success
El HEMA first days: huge success
El Hema late nite
El Hema – Exhibition / Store
Arabising El Hemame


All the pictures in this post were taken by Wael & KJ.

12 thoughts on “EL HEMA at Mediamatic, Amsterdam.

Add yours

  1. Mr. Zoghbi this, Mr. Zoghbi zat… great reputation!! u r famous!
    Pacoo could your next typeface be called after my name or nickname or anythg that refers to me (how about the U font) it will be great to use the U font on a flag but not on underwear’s !

  2. Really interesting, all edge-cutting designs and it’s such an amazing feeling to see Arabic type used in product design in such great manner! Yes, even as erotic text on the panties! haha

    Thanks for the great coverage, Pascal

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