Khatt Font Project Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès

The design brief

To create legible Arabic fonts that can accommodate the design needs of contemporary design in the Arab world.

The brief was limited to creating book typefaces that can compliment the chosen Latin typefaces. Innovation and diversity in Arabic textfaces was a primary concern because book and publication design in the Arab world are far behind in terms of quality (partly because of lack of appropriate fonts).

The design of an ever-growing number of modern bilingual magazines and publications is being set back aesthetically because of inadequate and poorly crafted Arabic fonts (modeled after antiquated and impractical calligraphic scripts). Infusing fresh blood into this area was not only a good starting point, but also the best way to address the problem of balancing legibility with reading conventions in modern Arabic printed media. Each Dutch designer was asked to select one appropriate font from his existing typefaces, and then in collaboration with his Arab partner to design a matching Arabic version. The selection of the starting Latin fonts addressed diverse design applications and type design approaches, consequently creating a much-needed variety of contemporary Arabic typefaces.

A list of design requirements was set as follows:
• The Arabic font and its Latin counterpart were to have the same visual size at the same point size.
• The Arabic fonts are to be designed in two weights; a regular or book weight for running text, and a bold weight for headings (excluding Italics which are not a common convention in Arabic typesetting).
• The Arabic fonts would have the same ‘look and feel’ as the Latin font, with similar design details like stem weight, color, letter contrast and stroke endings.
• The results should be truly bilingual fonts.
• The fonts should accommodate the Farsi as well as the Arabic languages in their character set.
• The fonts are to be professionally produced to work on commonly used Arabic DTP software.