Khatt Font Project Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès

The goals of the project

Creating good matching Arabic fonts for existing Latin font families

The main thrust of the project is to address the modernization of Arabic textfaces and to develop quality Arabic fonts.

The main thrust of the project is to address the modernization of Arabic textfaces and to develop quality Arabic fonts that will on one hand set the benchmark for future developments in this field, and on the other create good matching fonts for existing Latin font families. The project aims to provide design solutions for legible Arabic fonts that answer the dual-script needs of contemporary design in the Arab world. As a first step, we identified the general problems of Arabic fonts available on the market today, and then defined them as follows:

• Lack of published simple and concise guidelines of how to design Arabic fonts.
• Lack of established and widely known design conventions (such as similarities and differences between various letterforms, standard test words and test sentences).
• Lack of information on issues of legibility of Arabic in various reading contexts.
• Lack of unified technical standards that are universally shared by different technology suppliers (software and computer systems).

These problems were discussed and battled with during the three-day workshop we conducted at Mediamatic in Amsterdam in January 2006, and was later carried on through the ongoing work of the designers and their sharing of information and experiences amongst themselves. By sharing with the readers our long and tedious process, we hope that lasting lessons for Arabic type design can be learned from this project. We aim to highlight the problems of Arabic type, set standards and conventions for designing modern Arabic fonts, and provide information as clearly and as in-depth as possible. We strive to provide guidelines and examples of well-crafted Arabic fonts that encourage well-informed and innovative attitudes to designing Arabic type. And finally we hope to initiate the creation of a platform for a young generation of Arab type designers. Furthermore, we would like to repeat this experiment in the near future and use what we have learned from this pilot project to go further in our research and investigations. We are looking to invite a fresh round of designers and commission them to design an original dual-script (Latin and Arabic) typeface that will require designing both scripts at the same time—possibly also according to a slightly modified design brief. In addition to the practical concerns, the project aimed at creating possibilities for cultural exchange, for building bridges between the European and Arab cultures, and for stimulating an exchange of design expertise between designers from different backgrounds, and practicing in different cultures.