El-Harf Tour

I’ve guided the design and crafts tour during the 2nd edition of Amman Design Week, the title of the tour was named after my new established studio: El-Harf, which will be the home of calligraphy and Arabic visual arts.

The tour started from Calligrapher Shehadeh Haroun’s shop, to meet him and learn from his experience in silkscreen printing, Haroun still using the old-school methods that he acquired from the sign painters of Damascus once he was there 50 years ago! I’ve collaborated with Haroun to produce the English lettering of Amman Design Week, and to demonstrate the essential skills and give some funny tips for the tour members.

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Islamic Seals Design

I was impressed with this amazing collection of Islamic seals on different manuscripts from various Islamic cultures and ages, this database was collected by Chester Beatty Library in Dublin from their own fine archive of manuscripts, more than 2600 seal impressions were found and documented!

Yes, 2600!

I’ve picked some of them to share with you, copy rights are reserved to Chester Beatty Library:

 

My next little project is to make one seal for my name inspired by these designs.. stay tuned!

 

Typographic massacre!

I was stumbled upon this photo from Egypt, showing a tiny street having this enormous amount of doctor and clinics signs over two facing buildings, unbelievable shot! A street like this must enter Guinness world records!

Now talking about the sad part: Typography, yes! I feel so ashamed for the quality of design and type in this place, and all over the Arab world cities to be more realistic! Choosing this ‘ugly’ typeface has become a virus that infected every printed material in any Arabic letters! From Afghanistan to the USA, everything is polluted with this disease!

It’s similar to Arial at some level, if we count the popularity and presence, but Arial is way and way better in legibility and decentness! Can you imagine that!

That font, originally designed by Yemeni type designer Abdualla Faris in 1993 for Diwan software company in the UK, the font named as Muna, it has two weights back then, and it was widely used in books and magazines across the Arab world as a body text font, then, Layout of Lebanon has stolen it and named: AXT Manal, after that, many hacks were happen on the font, until the final surgery which made the font that bold and bulky, I think it was done for ASHARQ AL-AWSAT newspaper from London.. then the black stupid font went so viral! And ruined a country with an amazing legacy of hand painted signs!

You need to live in the Arab world to understand what exactly I mean with stupid, ugly and bad Arabic font!


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Rotring Controlled Lettering System

Today I acquired this rare item from a brand I lived with for two decades of my life; the Rotring Controlled Lettering System is something I used to see in catalogues at my father company back in the 90’s, I just wished to see it, touch it and write with it, now it’s here on my desk 🙂

Read more about this well-designed tool here.

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ISIS Typography

Since the creation of ISIS in 2013, I witnessed as an Arab and Muslim citizen the bloody image of ISIS, and their strong media presence as well, and I observed the usage of type and calligraphy in their designs for social media and other outlets. In this post, I’ll show my findings* for ISIS designs and will comment on them.

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The official logo and flag of ISIS, which is the stamp of prophet Mohammad under the “Shahada” phrase that say: There is no god but Allah. The typographic style here is mimicking the stamp design in the 7th century, very basic, primitive and without any diacritic marks. ISIS used this design to declare their rights of “Khelafa” or caliphate. While in fact, the prophet Mohammad have not used his stamp as a war symbol, he used it as a personal stamp on messages to invite other rulers in the region to know about Islam. (We didn’t see the real stamp or its impression, the current known one is fake and was made by a Turkish artisan in the 19th century, the words’ order in the fake stamp above is wrong, Arabic words should stack over each other from top to down not the apposite)

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