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I speak with the founder of Arabic Script Studio (@arabic_script), an Arabic branding studio and leading platform for designers in the Persian and Arab worlds.
ZLM: Welcome, Mehrdad. First, can you explain what you do at Arabic Script Studio?
M: The shortest way to explain our timeline is this — in 2011 I started researching Arabic script. In 2015, I started graphic design experimentally. In 2019, I started the Arabic script platform alone. In 2020, I started my own cloud design studio with Haifa from Egypt and Robert from France.
Today in 2022, we have a digital cultural platform for Arabic script enthusiasts. We have clients from Middle Eastern countries and we are expanding both every day.
ZLM: How did the studio begin?
M: I needed co-workers who could help me do my job better, so I posted a call on Instagram and found them. We all have the same main interest in typography with Arabic script, and then other things. For example, I love motion graphics and Haifa has a very professional performance in customer service. Robert is a student at Reading University and is getting better at font design each and every day. We spend parts of the day on Skype talking about work or because of the time difference, we use WhatsApp and that’s the way we share our content with each other. The fact that we are able to work together and get great teamwork achievements despite different languages, countries and cultures, has been, is and always will be very precious for us.
ZLM: Why did you decide to specialise solely in Arabic branding?
M: My homeland is Iran and I learned to read and write with this script. During my research in this field, I realised two important things: the first and most important is that brands and designers do not like and follow this script in the first place. The next important point is the variety of this script. In a hypothetical line, from India to Morocco, there are countries that use this script, but each in its own style and accent. The day I discovered them, I realised that I could see my cultural vision in a wide range of details which was a wonderful experience. Today, if our customers are from any of these countries, we will lead and guide the design forward based on those same details.
ZLM: What is the demand like for studios in Europe to work with Arabic?
M: We had several requests during this period, which we also rejected due to lack of coordination. Sometimes international brands that want to open a branch in the Middle East need this script to design and use their multilingual logo. Typically, studios and brands in Middle Eastern countries need Arabic script design, but in Europe, as far as I know, the demand rate is low.
ZLM: What has the studio been up to recently? What have you been creating?
M: The Melli Coffee Project was our last design in the studio, which started in the fall of 2021 and it’s first phase has just ended. Starting from July, we will start its Exclusive Persian font in the next phase.
ZLM: What projects have been highlights for you over the last year?
M: In the cultural section, we had the typographic design week and we received very good feedback from our audience. This week, we selected the most creative projects of Iranian studios that had a typographic approach and interviewed their authors. We had Two other projects in this section, which we did with the help of designers from Arabian and Iranian worlds, both of which were related to New Year greetings, Christmas and Persian New Year.
In the branding section, we launched a brand in Dubai, where we compiled and completed everything from strategy to Brand book. There were other smaller projects, such as designing a calendar, as well as live and virtual events.
ZLM: What are your plans for 2022?
M: We are currently planning a typography workshop tour in the Middle East. This tour will be in Istanbul, Beirut, Tehran and Dubai. In the summer, our typography classes will start, which is the result of my years of research. We have launched a new online tutorial that I call Playful Learning. At the end of this year, our specialised foundry for Arabic script fonts will be released. We are writing and preparing a book that we hope will be completed by the end of this year. We are honouring some of the great poets and singers of the Arabian and Iranian worlds. This year, our program is at the service of potential customers.
And finally… This script has the ability to distance itself from its traditional and calligraphic parts and can easily be placed next to the Latin script in any modern and avant-garde space. It can appear in new media, in animation and in typography. In the cultural sector, we try our best to introduce these things not only to Middle Eastern designers but to the whole world, so that they can enjoy them as much as we do.
ZLM: Thank you, Mehrdad and Arabic Script Studio.