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BAHIA SHEHAB: A HISTORY OF ARAB GRAPHIC DESIGN

The First-ever book-length history
of Arab graphic design

Release date: 15 December 2020



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. Highlighting the work of key designers and stunningly illustrated with over 600 color images, A History of Arab Graphic Design is an invaluable resource tool for graphic designers, one which, it is hoped, will place Arab visual culture and design on the map of a thriving international design discourse.

About the authors

Bahia Shehab is a professor of the practice of design and founder of the graphic design program at The American University in Cairo. An artist, designer, and art historian, her work has received a number of international awards, including a TED Senior Fellowship, a Prince Claus Award, and the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture. Her publications include A Thousand Times NO: The Visual History of Lam-Alif (2010).

Haytham Nawar is chair of the department of the arts at the American University in Cairo and the founder and artistic director of Cairotronica, a festival of electronic and new media arts in Cairo. An artist, designer, and Fulbright scholar, his work has been shown at many local and international exhibitions. His research interests include design history and practices with a focus on the Arab world and Africa.


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