Arabic Type: Between Heritage and Modernity

On March 5, 7 & 19 The Center for Book Arts held a three-part series dedicated to Arabic type design, the heritage of Arabic letterforms in the context of current technologies, contemporary Arabic branding design, and the history of Arab graphic design. The series brings together renowned and award winning designers working with Arabic type, both from the US and the Middle East. The series was curated and moderated by Dr. Nadine Chahine.

NOTE: all presentations were conducted in English.

Dr. Nadine Chahine is an award-winning Lebanese type designer and principal at ArabicType Ltd. She has an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading, UK, and a PhD from Leiden University, The Netherlands. She has numerous awards including two Awards for Excellence in Type Design from the Type Directors Club in New York in 2008 and 2011. Her typefaces include: Frutiger Arabic, Neue Helvetica Arabic, Univers Next Arabic, Palatino Arabic, and Koufiya. Nadine’s work has been featured in the 5th edition of Megg’s History of Graphic Design and in 2012 she was selected by Fast Company as one of its 100 Most Creative People in Business. In 2016 her work was showcased in the 4th edition of First Choice which highlights the work of the 250 top global designers. In 2017, Nadine was selected by Creative Review to their Creative Leaders 50.

Panel topics include Modernity in Arabic Type Design; Contemporary Arabic Graphic Design; and Technology & Heritage.

Modernity in Arabic Type Design

March 5, 2020 at The Center for Book Arts

This panel featured Dr. Nadine Chahine who discussed Modernity in Arabic Type Design; Wael Morcos, led a talk entitled Right to Left: A Practice; and Thomas Jockin, who presented Two Decades of Type Directors Club Award-Winning Arabic Typefaces.

Between Heritage and Modernity: Modernity in Arabic Type Design

The first panel discussion of the 2020 History of Art Series will be on Modernity in Arabic Type Design. The evening will feature Wael Morcos, with a talk entitled Right to Left: A Practice, Dr. Nadine Chahine discussing Modernity in Arabic Type Design, and Thomas Jockin, who will be presenting Two Decades of Type Directors Club Award-Winning Arabic Typefaces.

Posted by The Center for Book Arts on Thursday, March 5, 2020

Wael Morcos is a graphic designer and type designer from Beirut, Lebanon. Upon receiving his BA in Graphic Design from Notre Dame University (Lebanon), he spent three years developing identities and Arabic-Latin bilingual typefaces, in addition to working in print and exhibition design. Wael received his MFA from RISD in 2013, after which he moved to New York and worked with several studios in the city before founding Morcos Key. Wael has been featured in Print Magazine’s 15 under 30, was named a Young Gun by the Art Directors Club and an Ascender by the Type Directors Club.
Thomas Jockin is the founder of TypeThursday. TypeThursday is a global superfamily that converges monthly to help one another improve our letterforms over drinks. The monthly events around the world start with social time and drinks. Followed by a moderated group critique of in-progress projects that focus on letterform design and/or usage. The audience may recieve, give, or simply listen to feedback. 
Jockin is an adjunct lecturer at City University of New York Queens College, City College and State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology. He is also a practicing typeface designer. Previous clients include Google, Express, Footlocker, and Michael Kors. Thomas‘s fonts are available on Google Fonts, Adobe Fonts, and other distributors for you to use.

Resources & Citations:

Contemporary Arabic Graphic Design

March 7, 2020 at the Center for Book Arts

This panel featured Tala Safié, who presented, “Haza al Massa” (or “Tonight”), a documentation of the golden years of Lebanese cinema through posters, zines, press books, and film ephemera; Bahia Shehab who discussed, From Calligraphers to Type designers: Arabic Script in Transition; and Tarek Atrissi, who discussed Branding with Arabic Typography.

Between Heritage and Modernity: Contemporary Arabic Graphic Design

The Center for Book Arts is hosting a series of 3 seminars dedicated to Arabic type design and typography, curated by Dr. Nadine Chahine, taking place on March 5, 7, and 19.The theme of the series revolves around concepts of modernity in Arabic type design, the heritage of Arabic letterforms in the context of current technologies, contemporary Arabic branding design, and the history of Arab graphic design. The series brings together renowned and award winning designers working with Arabic type, both from the US and the Middle East.This History of Art seminar will be on Contemporary Arabic Graphic Design. The afternoon will feature Tarek Atrissi, who will be discussing Branding with Arabic Typography; Tala Safié will be presenting, "Haza al Massa" (or "Tonight"), a documentation of the golden years of Lebanese cinema through posters, zines, press books, and film ephemera; and Bahia Shehab, who will be giving a discussion entitled, From Calligraphers to Type designers: Arabic Script in Transition.

Posted by The Center for Book Arts on Saturday, March 7, 2020

Lebanese-Dutch Tarek Atrissi established in 2000 his design studio, Tarek Atrissi Design (, with offices in Barcelona and The Netherlands. The studio’s cross cultural design approach has gained an international reputation and produced projects that left a significant influence on the contemporary graphic design landscape in the Middle East. His awards includes TDC New York, the Adobe Design Achievement Awards, and the Design for Asia Award, among others. 
Tarek Atrissi holds a BA in Graphic Design with distinction from the American University of Beirut; a Masters of Arts in Interactive Multimedia from the Utrecht School of the Arts in Holland; and an MFA in Design entrepreneurship from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He holds a postgraduate degree in Typeface Design from the type@cooper program of the Cooper Union. Atrissi founded – an Arabic Type Foundry specializing in multilingual typeface design. He has been on the judging panel of many international design competitions, including the Tehran Typeface Design competition in Iran, The Taiwan International Student Design Competition, The TDC competition in New York, and 100/100 Poster design competition in Egypt. He is board member at Creative Industries Fund NL in the Netherlands: the Dutch cultural fund for architecture, design and digital culture.
Tala Safié is a graphic designer from Beirut based in New York. She currently works as a designer for AIGA Eye on Design, and as an art director for the New York Times.
Bahia Shehab is Professor of design and founder of the graphic design program at The American University in Cairo. Her work has been exhibited in museums, galleries and streets around the world. She has received a number of international recognitions and awards, which include the BBC 100 Women list (2013), a TED Senior fellowship (2016), and a Prince Claus Award (2016). She is the first Arab woman to receive the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture. Her publications include “A Thousand Times NO: The Visual History of Lam-Alif” (Khatt 2010), “At The Corner of a Dream” (Gingko Library 2019) and a co-authored book “A History of Arab Graphic Design” (AUC Press 2020). 

Resources & Citations:
A Thousand Times No

Technology and Heritage

March 19, 2020 Webinar

This panel featured Mamoun Sakkal, who discussed Calligraphy, Type, Image: My Journey into Arabic Script; Stephen Coles who presented A Brief Typographic Trip Around the World with Letterform Archive (with commentary from Dr. Chahine and Dr. Sakkal; and Erich Scheichelbauer who presented Technology and the Arabic Script with Dr. Chahine.

Stephen Coles is an Editorial Director & Associate Curator at Letterform Archive in San Francisco. He also publishes Fonts In Use and Typographica and wrote the book The Anatomy of Type.
Dr. Mamoun Sakkal is founder and principal of Sakkal Design in Bothell, Washington. Providing graphic design and communication solutions to major national and international corporations, his firm has focused on Arabic calligraphy and typography since the 1990’s and received several awards for calligraphy, graphics, and type design including awards of excellence from ADC, TDC, Granshan, and IRCICA in Istanbul. His work is widely published in typography and calligraphy books and annuals including Communication Arts, Hroof Arabiyya, Letter Arts Review, LogoLounge, and Yearbook of Type among others. Dr. Sakkal was commissioned to design the corporate Arabic typefaces for Burj Khalifa and Armani Hotel in Dubai. He is the Arabic language consultant for Microsoft and several of his Arabic fonts are now widely used as Windows system fonts. He holds a PhD from the University of Washington in Seattle, and his clients include Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Google, Linotype, Microsoft, Monotype, and National Geographic. 
A trained photographer, Rainer Erich (‘Eric’) Scheichelbauer (b. 1977 in Vienna, Austria) holds both a philosophy and a Dutch studies degree. He creates typefaces, works as a digital punchcutter for other type designers, and gives type design workshops on a regular basis. Since he has joined the Glyphs team in 2012, he has been writing articles, tutorials, and Python scripts, as well as the blog and the handbook. He lives and works in Vienna, where he runs his type studio Schriftlabor.

Resources & Citations:

Mamoun Sakkal
Sakkal type design work:
Shilia new release:
Sakkal graphic design, type design, artwork:
Sakkal art and typography prints on demand:
Sakkal Kitab typeface in Kindle e-books:  then-> Kindle e-Books  then-> Foreign Languages  then-> Arabic

Stephen Coles
Low resolution presentation:
High resolution presentation:
A video about Letterform Archive and how to join:
Coming soon: material related to global scripts. Sign up to be notified:
That material will also go on the Online Archive:
An excellent primer for learning about the Arabic script, how to write it, and how to design and use Arabic type:
Resources on Writing Systems: http://www.worldswritingsystems.org
Links to some of the work shown:

Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer
Glyphs (font editor)
Creating an Arabic font in Glyphs: