A project with a soul

A few months ago, on a cold Tuesday morning, I got an e-mail from Mario Garcia asking me if I’d like to work with him on the redesign of the An-Nahar newspaper in Lebanon. I was waiting for the bus, and if it were not for the people around, I would have started jumping up and down.

I am Lebanese and have grown up reading An-Nahar. It is the leading newspaper in Lebanon and one of the most respected names in journalism in the Middle East. To be involved in such a project was such a big honor… And so it came about that I consulted Mario on the typography of the new design and came up with the new typographic suite for An-Nahar: a new and exclusive headline typeface, Gebran2005, coupled with Univers Next Arabic for special highlights and graphics. The text face would stay with their Marwan, and to break the ice with some articles, Palatino Sans Arabic was added to the mix.

The timing was suicidal. We had to design and deliver the fonts in around 1 month. The colleagues at Linotype were super supportive (thank you Joerg, Martin, Atilla, Eitel and Abi!) and so we managed to finish and deliver in my last 10 minutes before Christmas break.

But this project is more than just a typeface. The headline typeface is a tribute to the late editor Gebran Tueni. His story, its tragic ending, and the An-Nahar’s resilience is an inspirational story like no other. This is not the place to delve into my usual poetic ramblings about the nature and interaction between design and real life, what one designs and what one believes in. But suffice to say: designing a typeface that is to become the voice of the newspaper you read while growing up, brings with it such a sense of responsibility, of awe, and fulfillment, that I find myself lost at how to begin to describe my joy at holding the paper in my hands this morning.

I leave you here with a few picture from the An-Nahar headquarters in Beirut yesterday, as well as the first prints off the press at 3am this morning. The ink was not even dry! I will surely write more about this project… Tonight is the launch event, and so we’ll have a few more pictures to share!

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