Arab graphic design emerged in the early twentieth century out of a need to influence, and give expression to, the far-reaching economic, social, and political changes that were taking place in the Arab world at the time. But graphic design as a formally recognized genre of visual art only came into its own in the region in the twenty-first century and, to date, there has been no published study on the subject to speak of. A History of Arab Graphic Design traces the people and events that were integral to the shaping of a field of graphic design in the Arab world. Examining the work of over eighty key designers from Morocco to Iraq, and covering the period from pre-1900 to the end of the twentieth century, Bahia Shehab and Haytham Nawar chart the development of design in the region, beginning with Islamic art and Arabic calligraphy, and their impact on Arab visual culture, through to the digital revolution and the arrival of the Internet. They look at how cinema, economic prosperity, and political and cultural events gave birth to and shaped the founders of Arab graphic design.
Join us for this 30-minute conversation followed by 15 minutes of Q+A
About Bahia Shehab
Bahia Shehab is a 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. Through investigating Islamic art history she reinterprets contemporary Arab politics, feminist discourse and social issues. She has received a number of international awards, which include the BBC 100 Women list, a TED Senior Fellowship, and a Prince Claus Award. She is the first Arab woman to receive the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture. Shehab holds a PhD from Leiden University in The Netherlands and is the founding director of TypeLab@AUC. Her publications include A Thousand Times NO, At The Corner of a Dream and the co-authored book A History of Arab Graphic Design. Her latest book You Can Crush the Flowers: A Visual Memoir of the Egyptian Revolution published in 2021 marks the ten-year anniversary of the uprising.
About Haytham Nawar
Haytham Nawar is a practicing artist and designer, as well as a scholar in the fields of art and design. He has built his professional and academic career over the past two decades simultaneously fulfilling the different roles. He is an Associate Professor of design and the Chair of the department of the arts at the American University in Cairo. Nawar is also the founding director of Cairotronica, Cairo International Electronic and New Media Arts Festival, Egypt. His most recent publications are Language of tomorrow: Towards a Multicultural Visual Communication System in a Post-Human Era and the co-authored book A History of Arab Graphic Design.
About Dana Baddad
Dana Baddad is a strategist and designer focused on brand systems. Originally from Jordan, she lived, studied, and worked across Beijing, California, Moscow and Dubai. She holds a BFA in graphic design from California College of the Arts, and was part of The New Normal research programme at Strelka Institute for Design, Media and Architecture in Moscow, Russia. Most recently, she co-founded micro.radio, a platform for exploration and discovery based in Amman.
About David Hisaya Asari
David Hisaya Asari is a designer and design educator, based in Oakland, California. At California College of the Arts, he is faculty in Graphic Design, Critical Ethnic Studies, and Special Programs. His studio course focuses on information visualization, communication, and research; and he is co-chair of FOCA (Faculty of Color Alliance). His professional practice includes exhibition and environmental design, wayfinding systems, identity, branding, publication, and packaging. Early on, he had the good fortune to work for over a decade as a senior designer at Pentagram with Kit Hinrichs. David is a President Emeritus of AIGA San Francisco, and has just finished up his term as member of AIGA Design Educators Community Steering Committee.