Book: Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès

Typographic Matchmaking in the City

Propositions for a Pluralist Public Space

TMMC book cover - Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès

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Edited by Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares
Khatt Books, Amsterdam 2010
Highly illustrated 396 pages in color
Languages: Dutch, English, Arabic
Size: 21 cm x 28 cm
Soft cover with flaps

The Typographic Matchmaking in the City project is a design research project investigating new approaches for bilingual lettering and poetic narrative for public space. The project have proven to be highly inspirational for the participating designers; it brought together designers from different cultural backgrounds to intensely collaborate, over a period of 2 years, on creating coherent products with groundbreaking results. This project shows the important role that design can play in initiating cultural change, assimilation and integration—by simply using our daily basic communication mode: the written word.

The project consisted of 5 teams of 15 Dutch and Arab designers (type designers, graphic designers, architects, and industrial designers) who collaborated on designing new bilingual typefaces conceived for 3-dimensional/architectural design applications. The end result of this project is 5 new bilingual font families (Arabic & Latin) that are inspired by and made for the urban public space, one book and a documentary film about the design process and the people behind it. The designers included designers such as Max Kisman, Melle Hammer, René Knip, Jeroen van Erp, Erik van Blokland, Artur Schmal, Pascal Zoghbi, Naji El Mir, Hisham Youssef, Joumana Al Jabri, Yara Khoury, Wael Morcos, Reza Abedini, Khajagh Apelian, and STEALTH.

The Typographic Matchmaking in the City book offers a highly illustrated account of the project and the design research of each of the 5 teams. This forms the heart of the book, and in a sketchbook style it presents the design process and end results of each team. The design research is framed and contextualized by a range of brief essays that discuss the complex topic of public space, shedding light on the function and role of text and monumental typography in architectural/public spaces. The book discusses the implications of designing for “public space” in multicultural communities.

This book and the design research project, provide concrete observations on differences as well as shared principles between the Latin and Arabic scripts, and on cultural and architectural conventions for the use of typographic design in three-dimensional urban space in different cities and cultural contexts. It raises thoughtful questions and provides useful tools that designers can use in creating new works for interventions in their own cities.

The authors include Dr Howayda Al Harithy (American University of Beirut), Zeina Maasri (American University of Beirut), Fadi Shayya (Dar al Handasa), Todd Reisz (Al Manakh 2, editor), Gerard Hadders, Sinan Hassan, Hashim Sarkis, Peter Bilak. In addition, the book presents the research projects of the 5 teams in a highly illustrated sketchbook style that visually explains the design process leading to the final results of public art propositions and typefaces.

This project has been generously funded by the Fonds BKVB and the Mondriaan Foundation