Experimental Arabic/Latin Type Workshop

Arabic Letter “Yeh” of Seria Arabic type drawn with coffee, ink and dantelle pattern.

Students in the Advanced Typography course at the Lebanese American University [LAU] were asked to experiment with textures/patterns and try to apply them on existing bi-script Arabic/Latin fonts in-order to create their own experimental fonts. The students were handed the outlines of Seria Arabic and Fedra Arabic.

After I gave a lecture about type anatomy and the type design process, each student was asked to apply the following 4 phases:

Phase 1: Research and mood board
Choose one of the three bi-script fonts.
Research and analyse the outlines of the letters by tracing them. Each letter should be traced within a 10×10 cm size.
Study their application in design, and understand their strength and weakness.
Create a mood board based on a certain topic. Create a collages on an A1 board in which you will express visually everything that relates and conveys your theme. Experiment with different media and styles (pictures, drawings, illustrations, print, rubbing…)

Phase 2: Letters Mutation, Creation of hybrid ornamental/structured type
After tracing the letters and selecting the graphic elements from your mood board, start experimenting with the possibility of merging the outlines of the letters with the graphical elements.

Phase 3: Creating Arabic and Latin words from the experimentations done.
Choose an Arabic and English word based on the topic you chose. Start writing the words using your created experimental type.

Phase 4: Finalizing the whole Latin and Arabic
After experimenting with the words and finalizing the design approach to the letters, all the remaining letters in the Arabic and the Latin set should be created. All the letters should be harmonious and proportional in look and weight.
It is very important that all letters are equal in reference to their presence on the page.
No letter should over power the rest. Place all letters on their baseline on a grid with x-height, ascender line, descender line and try to level them so that they fit proportionally on the grid in a uniform manner.

Bellow for some of the fonts created in the workshop.
Each student wrote his/her own text about the fonts presented.

1. Inki Type; Ziad Rawas:

Inki Type Poster, Ziad Rawas, LAU Beirut, Fall 2009.

Inki is a handmade font made out of natural ink strokes, blown manually by month through a blowing straw. This font was made entirely by a simple blowing straw and a bottle of black ink without any use of brushes or black markers. Each letter is unique with its strokes and thickness. Inki font was originated by Seria Arabic.

Inki Type created from Seria Arabic type, Ziad Rawas, LAU Beirut, Fall 2009.

2. Dantelle Type; Sarah el Nahhal:

Dantelle Type created from Seria Arabic type, Sarah El-Nahhal,LAU Beirut, Fall 2009.

The dentelle font is considered as an elegant font since the original dentelle fabric is known as a very expensive and an elegant material. The floral elements that this font has gives it a more refined appearance, in addition to the different thicknesses that it has. The Dentelle font is basically made out of the concept of laces or «dentelle».The characters of this font are found in boths languages Arabic and English that were constructed out of the original Seria font designed by Martin Majoor, and the Seria Arabic font designed by Pascal Zoghbi.

Design Process from Seria Arabic to Dantelle type.

Dantelle Type created from Seria Arabic type, Sarah El-Nahhal,LAU Beirut, Fall 2009.

3. Folded Type; Reem Kassem:

Design process from Fedra Arabic to Folded Type.
Folded Type created from Fedra Arabic, Reem KassemLAU Beirut, Fall 2009.

The newly designed serif typeface “Folded” is not a face for all purposes. Carrying an arabic adaptation to it in addition to the outline version of it, it has been tailored for display usage. “Folded” is based on the all-known sans-serif Fedra regular lowercase and arabic typeace. This results in a metal based typeface, with minimal details yet both flexible and distinctive. Through the process of its creation, Folded has reached the final stage of an outline of the folded metal stripes. The outline maintains the folds that are clear in the metallic 3D phase.

Folded metallic sheets creating the 3D letters.

Folded Type created from Fedra Arabic, Reem Kassem, LAU Beirut, Fall 2009.

4. Kahwa Type; Nour Aghar:

Kahwa Type created from Seria Arabic type, Noor Aghar,LAU Beirut, Fall 2009.

The Kahwa font is based on the stains of the Turkish coffee combining the dregs, the coffee itself and all. The Kahwa font is characterized with its stainy and non clean counters and edges. The Latin Kahwa font is characterized with long descenders and ascenders. As for the Arabic Kahwa font it is based on the Nasekh type.
The Kahwa font is a informal type and in particular a strictly display font.
The coffee inspired font gives you the perfect mood to grab a cup of coffee and directly gives the message that is needed. The informality of the font preserves its messy details such as the dregs and the liquid feel. The type of beans used for this font is the Turkish coffee blend in which we use and abuse in all of our Lebanese regions.
The Kahwa font is developed from the original Seria Latin font designed by Martin Majoor in 1996 and the Seria Arabic font designed by Pascal Zoghbi in 2007.

Detailed image from the hands one coffee stains phase.

7 thoughts on “Experimental Arabic/Latin Type Workshop

Add yours

  1. Lovely work – Im working on a folded Arabic type myself.

    It’s wonderful to see Arabic taking such rich new forms, we have such great scope for innovation, experimentation and evolution of these graceful forms we shouldn’t hinder our creativity.

    Happy to see you really encouraging students to break the mould!

    Salaam from Manchester, England.

  2. We never thought of such ways for experimenting with type and typefaces during our years of education. The forms are nice and expressive, I like the folded metallic sheets. It is a great deal of work to map these experiences, Arabic letters were never live and energetic as they are in these & similar experiences.

  3. Hello,

    I am a graphic design student at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi. And I am currently taking Typography Class, I really loved the Kahwa Type. Can I use it for a project I am working on?


  4. Please help me to make a logo with kufi font.As I am opening a site for women and will be known as NURAA.

    I would be very great ful if you could help me As I come from Sri lanka and we don’t have places to go for such classes to learn.

    Fathima Razana

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