Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès

Typographic Matchmaking in the Maghrib

The 3rd edition of the multi-script typographic research project of the Khatt Foundation

TMM3Maghrib_sm - Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès

The ambitious goals of the Typographic Matchmaking projects are to nurture cultural dialogue and help develop indigenous design skills. In its third edition entitled "Typographic Matchmaking in the Maghrib", a group of European (Spanish and French) and Arab (Lebanese, Moroccan and Tunisian) designers will research and develop tri-script font families that combine Arabic, Tifinagh and Latin scripts harmoniously. Both the Maghribi and the Tifinagh scripts have not been fully explored in contemporary digital fonts, though they harbor a wealth of aesthetic variety and expressive potential.

The main goals of the project include:

— To enhance the quality of Arabic typography and the skills of graphic professionals by bringing them together to work in close collaboration with each other. The cultural and professional exchange has proven to be very inspiring for all involved.
— To promote social integration and coherence in our ever more multi-cultural societies by showing a profound interest in each other's cultures that leads to better mutual understanding and acceptance. Also in this respect the Typographic Matchmaking projects have not lost any of their urgency.
— To make the results of the project freely available for everyone to use on a creative commons liscence, in order to educate the public, provide quality tools, and change visual culture and conventions. It has helped a lot to attract public attention to the subject of design and typography, and it did not stand in the way of the professional interest of the participants in the project. Quite the contrary; the results of the Typographic Matchmaking projects were abundantly shown internationally in exhibitions and presentations worldwide.

A brief history of the Typographic Matchmaking projects:

1. The first one, Typographic Matchmaking, started in 2005  and resulted in the release of 5 new Arabic fonts that matched existing Latin fonts. All the Arabic fonts were widely used and became part of daily visual culture in the Middle East. Practically all fonts also led to more extended versions and the long time involvement of some participating (Western) type designers in Arabic type. The project coincided with the impressive turn of interest in Arabic type in parts of the Arab world. A publication explaining the project and the research of the designers, containing basic versions of the font was published at the end of the project, helping spread the fonts and was accompanied by other events that brought further visibility to the project and the subjet.
2. The second project, Typographic Matchmaking in the City started in 2009 and resulted in the release of 5 (Arabic-Latin) multi-script fonts specifically for 3D typography applications. A comprehensive publication about the project was made, as well as a documentary film. The project resulted in a better awareness of making fonts and typographic applications for a 3D environment. The publication Sculpting Typewas a spin-of and so were workshops on 3D typography.

Designers on the project:

Team 1: Laura Meseguer and Kristyan Sarkis, Juan Luis Blanco;
Team 2: Naïma Ben Ayed and Redouan Chetuan.
Team 3: Salah Bellizi and Andreu Balius, Juan Luis Blanco.

Partners and sponsors:

Khatt Foundation, Creative Industries Fund NL (Netherlands), Fondation Suzanna Bidermann (Basel), Allianz Kulturstiftung (Berlin), Lutfia Rabbani Foundation (The Hague), ESAVM (Ecole Supérieure des Arts Visuels Marrakech (Morocco), Casa Árabe (Cordoba/Madrid), FramerFramed (Amsterdam), Mosaic Rooms (London).

This is a work in progress, so stay tuned as we develop the project further...