It does feel Hema!… This is one of the reactions visitors of el Hema exhibition had; and to me the most rewarding. The whole shop is practically in Arabic and all the products, interior, photography have an Arabic twist into them. This accomplishment is the work of the whole team who worked on the exhibition. It is also a happy moment for everyone interested in design, culture and specifically Arabic typography.

El Hema logos (Left: new logo, designed by Wael Morcos. Right: old logo, designed by Tarek Atrissi in collaboration with Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares. Arabic font used as basis for the logo is TheMix Arabic, designed by Lucas de Groot and Mouneer Al-Shaarani).

Arabic erotic poetry on uderwears, set in Fresco and designed by wael morcos.

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 of the El Hema store was to create an Arabic version of the famous HEMA Dutch stores.

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 design team was supervised by Pascal Zoghbi, one of the designers of the Match making project.

Women’s underwear with the El Hema clothing labels. The tags are designed by Khajag Apelian using TheMix Arabic and the underwear is designed using Sada.

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


The El Hema T-shirts

The interior of the shop with the wine labels designed by Abrar al Musallem

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


Chocolate and strawberry flavouried condoms package El Hema style by Abrar


Coffee, designed by khajag

‘I amsterdam’ campaign is the City ‘s official English-language portal for Amsterdam’s international visitors, expats, students and enterprises. The adaptation of the campaign to Arabic is designed by willem velthoven and wael morcos

The exhibition poster on Amsrerdam’s streets

Line of people waiting to visit the El Hema exhibition/shop



The following 2 pictures are taken by photographer Marieke Bijster





The following 3 pictures are taken by the photographer gilian schrofer




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

Channel 3
Channel At5
Zoomin tv

Viva El Hema (David Garcia)

‘The foundation not only risked bankruptcy, but worse, unpopularity, De Hema is a very popular company in the Netherlands, it is how many Dutch people like to see themselves. To a degree, to pick a fight with Hema is to pick a fight with the Netherlands. But amazingly (and luckily for the organisers) the project was a spectacular success.
Rarely do cultural foundations operating on the margins, achieve this degree of impact. Not only did queues form around the block, there was also unprecedented and overwhelmingly positive, media coverage including substantial time slots in the television and radio news broadcasts and also a front page splash in the De telegraph, the closest the Netherlands comes to ‘populist’ tabloid newspaper.’

The Arabised ‘H’ of El Hema
cultuurenshow website


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

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






For more info and links about the EL HEMA exhibition, please have a look on the following links:

El Hema on 29letters website

El Hema grand opening a success
El HEMA first days: huge success
El Hema late nite
El Hema – Exhibition / Store
Arabising El Hema

Explore posts in the same categories: Amsterdam, Arabic Type, Design, El Hema, Exhibition, Graphic design, Typography

14 Comments on “IT DOES FEEL HEMA!”

  1. Omar Says:

    I thought the project was brilliant – I’m really proud of you guys. You did a great job!
    Are they going to maintain on producing items with Arabic types or only as a limited edition exhibit?

  2. wael Says:

    Omar, the exhibition will stay open in amsterdam till the the 4th of November.
    The sales were much higher than expected so they are already reprinting and producing products to keep the exhibition filled.
    I don’t know exactly what is Mediamatic’s plan when the exhibition is over. But I don’t think the products are to be mass produced for long period of time.
    The best thing to do is to contact Mediamatic directly!
    Maybe you can ask if they ship some of their products to you!

  3. Kaoutar Says:

    Waellllllll, lekker ding!
    Thursday till Sunday: sold out, sold out, sold out. Yeah, people like what you’ve designed…! Last sunday we opened at 14:00, and at 14:10 we sold out half the store, the chocolate bars are going very quick!
    I really miss you guys though 😦 At least I have the nice pictures of you at the windows to stare at, that feels like you guys are still there haha!
    Much loooooooooooooooove from Amsterdam,

  4. rasha Says:

    hey guys im a graphic design ndu shouf campus student..
    im really proud of ur work..its GREAT!!
    anywy good luck hp to b there too next year 🙂

  5. nataliaspol Says:


  6. Rab Says:

    HOLLLYY SHHHHHHH…. SHAZAM!!! :D:D:D awesome u guys!!!! just AWESOME!!! great job!! beautiful!! congrats KJ and WAYL! 😀 come on u guys, try to make to cuba next month! peace!

  7. navcity Says:

    Could you translate the erotic poetry?! Hope it makes up for the lack of sexiness in the underwear design! Only kidding. good work 😉

  8. salma Says:

    heyyy all im a graphic design student at NDU too n i wonna say great work guys .Congratulations .. keep going

  9. navcity Says:

    I’m in amsterdam on 8th-10th Jan. Let me know if you got any exibitions on and I’ll check em out when I’m in town inshallah. Allah ma3ak

  10. Paolat Says:

    Guaw. That was a great oportunity and you all dit great. Very interesting concept, relizations, place…I mean everything was perfect. Here in the other side of the planet, know about you guys. jejejeje

  11. jeanne Says:

    congratulation continue forward

  12. […] On the 29th of November, KJ and I will join Raya Tueni and Maria Hakim to give a lecture about “El Hema” in Amsterdam (The Exhibition that we worked on in Amsterdam in August 2007 with Medamatic). Pascal […]

  13. […] / wrote up a wonderful piece on IT DOES FEEL HEMA! ThePlaceCheck out some of it here […]

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