Typographic Matchmaking in the City 2.0

The Khatt Foundation, curated by Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares, launched the Typographic Matchmaking sequel — Typographic Matchmaking in the City V2.0 project — which focuses on typography’s use in place making within an urban context.

Just like the first Typographic Matchmaking project, there are 5 teams of matched designers, only this time there architects are on board, along with major new ingredients. This time as well, my friend Khajag Apelian and I, are both part of 2 of the teams in the project.

What remains the same:
-5 teams of designers from Europe and the Middle east
-The aim is to create 5 pairs of matching Latin and Arabic typefaces
-Showcase the result in a book and an exhibition (typographic Matchmaking, El Hema)

What’s new:
-Each team now includes an architect
-Latin and Arabic typefaces are both created from scratch
-The outcome is not a text face but a display one inspired from the urban cities of Europe and the middle east, more specifically Amsterdam and Dubai/Beirut
-Showcase the process and the result in a book and a participatory public art space
-A group of designers and film makers accompany the project and the teams, documenting each step to produce the book and a documentary movie. Both the film feature and the book are to represent means of exploring the project as a creative process and and a showcase for the outcome.

TEAM 1 Story Line, Fluidity & Friction
Max Kisman (Netherlands),
Naji El Mir (Lebanon/France),
Hisham Youssef (Egypt/UAE)

TEAM 2 DNA, Latin & Arabic Double Helix
Rene Knip (Netherlands),
Jeroen van Erp (Netherlands),
Reza Abedini (Iran/Netherlands),
Khajag Apelian (Lebanon)

TEAM 3 Urban Rulers, City Metrics
Erik van Blokland (Netherlands),
Pascal Zoghbi (Lebanon),
Joumana Al Jabri (Saudi Arabia/Syria/UAE)

TEAM 4 Local Reference System
Artur Schmal (Netherlands),
Wael Morcos (Lebanon),
Richard Wagner (Germany/UAE)

TEAM 5 The Kashida Project
Melle Hammer (Netherlands),
Yara Khoury (Lebanon),
Stealth: Ana Dzokic (Serbia) & Marc Neelen (Netherlands)


Three meetings took place already, the last one ended few weeks ago.

Amsterdam February 09 was the first meeting during which the teams explored Amsterdam. The trip included launching the project, briefing the teams, discussing the general concept and requirements. Presentation by each participant took place at Mediamatic. The paired designers took the time to get to know each other and sit for brief brainstorming sessions as well as random discussions.

Meeting 01

The second workshop took place in March. Bastakia Art Fair, Dubai, was the gathering place for several days. Along with the tours to the art galleries of the fair, the trip included a series of visits to souks, museums, and Sharjah’s Calligraphic  Museum and Sharjah ‘s Islamic Museum. The participants inputs were inspiring and exciting and the process was just beginning.

Meeting 02

Back to Holland. This time it was Friesland, a beautiful farm in the North of Holland, Rene Knipp‘s studio. By this time, concepts have been discussed, and sketches started pointing to clearer and narrowed-down directions. Approaches are experimental and varied.

The outcome of the teams already looks like experimental typefaces and will offer interesting experiences immersing the viewer in the letter world. The end-result and the exhibition space should push boundaries of written letters to the dimensions of time, interactivity and customization. It is challenging and exciting to work with designers to whom Arabic script is a foreign experience. Matching both scripts as the design progresses requires a lot of give-and-take. Projected dates for the project completion are set for the coming year.

The Typographic Matchmaking in the City V2.0 project will focus on typography’s use in placemaking within an urban context. It will investigate the way that typography can merge with urban design to create public spaces with a unique sense of place (spaces that attract people because they are pleasurable and/or engaging, involve social encounters and immersion in the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of the  locale). Typography will be inspired, on the visual and conceptual level, from specific sites and locations in the city where bilingual (Latin and Arabic) textual communication can be employed to emphasize the  experience of the city. The design teams consisting of Dutch and Arab designers and architects (5 teams  of each 2 graphic/type designers and one architect) will explore this idea of type in the built environment. Intercultural dialogue is scripted within the working process and the project’s source material: (Dutch and Arab/Middle Eastern visual street culture, Atabic-Latin/dual-script lettering systems, built urban environmental design).

The project aims to create expressive type designs and applications, translating culturally-relevant messages (or gestures) into concrete design products (lettering systems and 3D prototypes). The fonts developed will be made from scratch (both the Latin and Arabic) designed at the same time and inspired by each other’s script traditions, and will be applied as poetic narratives in the form of participatory public art into the public spaces of two parallel cities: Dubai and Amsterdam.” (khtt.net)

The ” Typographic Matchmaking in the City V2.0 ” project is generously supported by Fonds BKVB (The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture) and the Mondriaan Foundation.

“Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares will be presenting the Typographic Matchmaking in the City 2.0 project at the XIN ICOGRADA Bejing 09 World Design Congress. The presentation will use the project case studies to explore what it means to push the notion of typography and space beyond the confines of reading (from paper) to other aspects of experiencing communication and placemaking, using architectural space and materials as integral components” (khtt.net)

Explore posts in the same categories: Amsterdam, Arabic Type, Design, Graphic design, Lebanon, sketches, Typography, vernacular design, Visual Communication


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