This talk focuses on the discrepancy between the manuscript tradition and the typographic representation of the Arabic script and develops around questioning why this happened, when and with what implications. Tracing the origins of change in the adaptation to a new technological environment, the latter is at the core of the narrative and complimentary to the formal evolution of Arabic letterforms. Within this line of enquiry, an insightful method of analysis of Arabic foundry types provides the guidelines for their examination and assessment, whilst bridging their design and manufacture with the historical narratives. Illustrated by examples of Arabic foundry types produced between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries, this talk argues the importance of typographic history to inform the critical assessment of Arabic visual forms, exemplified through the lens of movable metal type technology and its legacy on the structure of the Arabic script.
Emanuela Conidi is a typeface designer and researcher based in London, with expertise in Arabic script culture. Before relocating to the UK, she gained a Master Degree in Design and Visual Communication from the Polytechnic University in Milan, where she co-founded a graphic design studio. Previously at Fontsmith and CAST type foundries, Emanuela is now working at Dalton Maag, developing a variety of custom and library typefaces. She holds an MA in typeface design and a PhD from the University of Reading. Her academic research interests focus on the challenges of adapting the Arabic script from written to printed form.