News: Tagged as Muiz Anwar

In-use: FF Seria and FF Seria Arabic in Reflections on Islamic Art

FF Seria and FF Seria Arabic

The English and Arabic soft cover copies of the Qatar Museums Authority’s Reflections on Islamic Art. Each book is also available in a hardbound edition.

Reflections on Islamic Art is a new book edited by Ahdaf Soueif. It is available in two editions: Arabic and English. Both are typeset in FF Seria, one of our multi-script typefaces.

FF Seria started as a Latin script family; Martin Majoor began the design in 1996, and we released it in 2000. Nine years later, we brought FF Seria Arabic onto the market, which Majoor developed together with Pascal Zoghbi, a Dutch-trained type designer based in Lebanon. Their tandem Arabic family was the first Arabic typeface published by FontFont; it grew out of an earlier collaboration named Sada, which had been designed as part of the Khatt Foundation’s Typographic Matchmaking project.

Both the Arabic and English editions of Reflections on Islamic Art were designed by Muiz Anwar, a graphic designer based in London – and also a former intern with us at FontFont. Anwar’s solution for these books is reduced and thoughtful. Each edition is a mirror of the other. Images play the primary role in the design, often taking up full pages, or half of a spread.

FF Seria Arabic Reflections on Islamic Art front page FF Seria English Reflections on Islamic Art front page

In order for the Arabic and English titles to take up the similar amounts of visual space, the Arabic title employs long kashidas – or lengthening strokes. However, the English title makes use of additional space, too. Had Anwar set the English title in upper and lowercase, its words would have been much shorter; by switching to all caps, letterspacing may be applied. The combination of tracked capitals in English and kashidas in Arabic is an interesting solution.

FF Seria Table of Contents in English FF Seria Table of Contents in Arabic

The books’ colour palettes are reduced, drawing more attention to the images themselves when their appear. Text in the Reflections on Islamic Arteditions is always either black-on-white or white-on-black. The tables of contents are handled in a similar way as the books’ title pages. Yet the typographic hierarchies are not identical in each edition: for the English-language, author names are set in FF Seria Italic, setting them apart from the main text in FF Seria Regular. Whereas in the Arabic typography there isn’t an italic weight in FF Seria Arabic, so the Arabic text has a slightly more even feel.

FF Seria Italic is an upright italic. Its letters have only a minimal slant. This sets it apart from the italics in Majoor’s other typeface families; FF Nexus Italic and FF Scala Italic both feature a steeper slope.

FF Seria Reflections on Islamic Art Calligrams by Anwar

Anwar is a type designer and letterer himself, and he contributed more to Reflections on Islamic Art than just its typesetting. Each chapter opens with a very short text in a thin, dotted-line constructed Arabic script that he designed for the purpose. The hard geometry and ‘digital’ nature of Anwar’s lettering in these books contrasts well with the pen-shaped form of FF Seria Arabic.

Regarding his design, Anwar wrote to tell us that he aimed ‘to reflect the architecture of the Museum of Islamic Art, an environment with an amazing collection of unique and intricately wrought works of art’. He continued, ‘the book is the building and its design is the architecture; its job is to maximize the impression the words and the images make on the viewer/reader. My design is rooted in the grid system traditions evident in the layout of Qur’anic and other Islamic manuscripts. Margins are wide and generous to allow the eye space to appreciate the variant detail of each piece of work. The reduced colour palette for the book is an extension of the architectural aesthetic I.M. Pei established for the MIA building.’

FF Seria English spread FF Seria Arabic spread

Great care has been taken to ensure that the harmony achieved and evident in an
Arabic spread is reflected with equal beauty in a Latin spread – with particular elements
reflected/reversed to conform to Arabic and Latin reading patterns. The grid layout for internal spreads is based on the proportions of early Arabic manuscripts, which characteristically featured expansive borders. Although these borders were often used for annotation, commentary and illumination, in many cases they were left blank, allowing greater emphasis to be placed on the content centralised on the page.

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