Archive for the ‘vernacular design’ category

Typographic Matchmaking in the City 2.0

October 22, 2009

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



Lebanon, tarararam!

June 13, 2008

This is my personal interpretation when it comes to the situation in Lebanon. Just as we hope it’s over, it always starts again.

“war is over”, “tarararam” (music of the Lebanese National Anthem)…


ThePlace in the Arabesque Graphics Book!

February 29, 2008

We are excited to tell that we are part of the new Arabesque Graphics book, to be in stores starting this April! The book is a compendium of contribution from various young or well known designers/studios such as Jonathan Barnbrook, Reza Abedini, Atrissi Design, Khatt Foundation, Mediamatic (Amsterdam), Mohtarafand us!


Here is a preview spread in which you can see a poster of the Modwi typeface (bottom left), designed by Kj.




February 22, 2008


When asked to design a series of 12 bookmarks around the theme experimental/environmental typography, I started by taking a trip to the old souk of Jounieh where we can find all sorts of vernacular, leftout typography. As I walked by, looking for found type, I thought about the concept of a bookmark: it is supposed to help you find your way while reading, which is also the purpose of signs in streets. And what is reading other than walking in a virtual world. This led to the idea of trying to create a typeface based on the signs in themselves, signs seen as lettershapes, which is a more holistic, twisted approach to the project.

Sign Alphabet

The ‘letterhunt’ started then. It was quite a challenge and I was walking in unknown territory, not sure whether I would be able to find all the letters of the alphabet. (more…)

vector illustration

February 12, 2008


Opposed to design which relies on intuition, clever thinking, and specific purpose, these illustrations were time consuming experimentation, and personal challenge to do realistic vector illustrations. I started both of them during July war on Lebanon when I was stuck at home for a long period…


Lebanese Vernacular Type (bookmarks)

December 21, 2007



When type mixes with art, superstitions, formalities, religious affiliations and social behaviour the result is a vernacular way of expression. Lebanese trucks are filled with typographic sentences, some painted directly and others are vinyl letter shapes and illustrations stuck on any side of a moving truck.

Most visuals reflect beliefs in the evil eye, envy, and ask the protection of God. Truck drivers and people working in the Public Transport- or whatever form of that available in Lebanon, have their business on the road. A protection from daily hazardous accidents is something they need.

The messages on the bookmarks focused on those expressions and inscriptions of the slang arabic/lebanese language often found on vehicles in public legumes markets. Photos are treated as visual clues and grouped under similar topics to produce one sequential typographical series where culture, traditions and beliefs mix.