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Well-known font designer Nadine Chahine talks EXCLUSIVELY to on typography

Nadine Chahine is an award winning Lebanese type designer with a special interest in Arabic typography. She studied Graphic Design at the American University of Beirut and MA in Typeface Design at the University of Reading, UK. During her study at Reading, she focused on the relationship of the Arabic and Latin scripts and the possibilities of creating a harmonious relationship between the two. She taught Arabic type design as a visiting lecturer at the American University in Dubai and at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. In 2005 she joined Linotype, Germany, as the Arabic specialist and has been living in Germany since then.

In September 2007 she started a PhD program at Leiden University and her focus is on legibility studies for the Arabic script. She has won the Dean’s Award for Creative Achievement from the American University of Beirut in 2000, and an Award for Excellence in Type Design from the Type Directors Club in New York in 2008 and 2011. Her typefaces include: the best-selling Frutiger Arabic, Neue Helvetica Arabic, Palatino Arabic, Koufiya, Janna, Badiya, and BigVesta Arabic.

1. What are the basics of typography?
It’s about the relationship of black and white, and using the dynamics of this relationship to bring forth a visual message.

2. What’s the difference in the creation of a headline typeface and a body typeface?
A text face is not supposed to be noticed. You read the article and the typeface disappears into the background. It’s not supposed to draw your attention. A headline typeface on the other hand is meant to grab your attention and keep it. It’s loud, and can be very expressive. A newspaper headline typeface is a crucial part of its identity.

3. What’s your opinion on the condensation / expansion of a typography? How much it can be done? To some headline type we must expand it 120 or 130 to make it well. To some it must be condensed to 90 or 80 to make it well. What’s the ideal/perfect horizontal scale for a good typography?
Usually, none at all. The best option is to contact the designer and ask for a condensed version of the typeface. If it’s between 96 and 104% it’s still ok. The weight of the vertical stroke is very important to the design. If you condense it automatically, it becomes too thin, and vice versa.

4.Personally which English type you liked most? Why?
It depends on what I want to use it for. I have a preference for Frutiger, Swift, and Palatino Sans. Frutiger is the ultimate humanist Sans Serif. Swift is gorgeous and well built, very sturdy. Palatino Sans is almost a genre in itself. Very friendly, soft, and a joy to read.

5. What made you attracted to the field of typography?
The contrast between black and white and the dynamics of contrasting curves and corners.

6.Tell me some of your best works and explain its evolution?
My recent project with Mario Garcia for An-Nahar is one of my favorites. The typeface has a very strong personality and presence. It’s sturdy, compact, and has a sense of authority. A very good fit for a leading newspaper.
7 What’s the difference between the newspaper and advertisement typography?
What’s the criteria on both cases?
With newspapers, readability is of the utmost importance. The tone of voice needs to convey authenticity and authority. The typefaces are usually compact to allow more words per line, and need to be quite sturdily built so as to work well on newspaper paper. With advertising, the choice of the typeface depends on the brand guideline and as such is more about personality and image. Typography plays a bigger role in newspapers and books (and other media that are text intensive) than in most other forms of communication.

8 Can you tell the various process in the typography making?
It’s a two-step process. First you need to select the right typeface(s) for your project, then you need to decide on how to use it (which weight, size, leading etc). Both components need to be done well for a successful project.

9.How important a typography in newspaper redesigning and what’s its role?
Typography is the voice of the newspaper, as integral to it as its editors. It sets the tone and mood for its communication with the readers and so needs to be carefully considered.

10.These days the designer were playing more typography as a part of design?
What’s your opinion on that?
Typography is a very powerful tool for visual communication. One large word can bring with it a lot of power. It is always interesting to explore these avenues and use type to breathe life into the page.

11.For many newspapers nameplate is very sacred .Do you think it must be polished or changed on every redesign?
It really depends on the design. If it is a classic style that withstands the test of time then maybe not every redesign. It also depends on what you want to achieve with the redesign.

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