NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

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Neshan 42


The Type Chooses

Hirbod Lotfian

In recent years, only a handful of designers have been steadily shaping a profession, which hadn’t received much attention in years past. Most of the designers who were born in the sixties are finding their identity and their role in today’s design era in Iran. They are a generation that, due to the various changes in their society, has always found the answers to their questions on their own. Two leading examples of this generation are Omid Emamian and Reza Bakhtiarifarad. Over the past six years, they have gone through the process of training, trial and error, and finding new solutions in type design that shape the letterforms into highly functional characters.
The two designers often collaborate on their designs by researching, brainstorming ideas, sketching, implementing their designs, to building a typeface together They believe that this joint approach speeds up their workflow and also leads to a better quality of work compared to a more separated direction. Sometimes, they work simultaneously and, in some cases, work would be divided between them.

Type designers are very precise. They observe well and they have the knowledge of both design history and of current trends. They do not let their personal interests dictate their work. It is not to say that they’re not creative. They are, but they also understand that in order to succeed within their societies, they have to make their designs approachable to the general public. On the other hand, designers are accustomed to technology and programming due to the technicalities of typing. Most importantly, designers are patient because generating a family of standard letters takes a great deal of time. The output ends up being used in two different ways: in a typographical sense and in everyday use

Lack of Type or Lack of Knowledge
Reza Bakhtiarifard believes that because of the limited font options, graphic designers sometimes choose a font based on the excitement of its newness. He states, “since Persian type is rare and the designers are eager to use new characters, as soon as a family of new letters is available, they rush to use it regardless of the kind of agency they work for and start to create different types of works. It looks like this is the type that chooses them.”
Type is not revolutionary and it develops gradually. Type designers should only move one step ahead of their audiences. Type designed for media is used for content transfer, so it should not be too expressive or decorative. Omid Emamian considers the mindset of the audience and the content of the message in the selection of type an important matter: “by types like Nazanin, Lotus, Mitra... our political, cultural, and scientific knowledge has been created over time and these types can’t be eliminated. But new knowledge or new content that has new audiences will require the production of new types and dishes for presentation.”

Searching for Iranian Identity
Vazeh is one of the latest collaborations of Omid Emamian and Reza Bakhtiarifard. This typeface was designed for the digitized publication of the Qur’an. Vazeh, according to its description, has several characteristics. It holds an Iranian spirit, it is close to the audience’s mental image of a religious text, it is legible on digital displays, and young audiences favor it. Emamian and Bakhtiarifard, in search of finding the Iranian soul in past religious texts, concluded that, “in the Iranian text, the change of form is done slowly, in such a way, that this change is solved in the form, but this is a sudden change in Arabic writing. And the angle of the collision of the forms is quite obvious.” The letterforms of Vazeh are squared to achieve optimum legibility within the pixels of digital screens. The diacritics were also carefully designed. All of these indicate that the Vazeh has precise, technical engineering in its design.
Ray is another typeface, produced by the duo. It is intended for advertising and commercial use, and falls somewhere between traditional and modern styles, with solid and reliable letters. The black weight (heaviest weight) is a bit severe, so it send serious message. However, other, lighter, weights are designed to be used as body text and, are therefore, slightly calmer than the black version. Although this typeface is somewhat different from today’s Iranian advertising, it will work beautifully if chosen for the right context. Ray blossomed at Granshan 2017 (The International Competition of Non-Latin Types) and gained attention from international judges. Additionally, both Vazeh and Ray have been selected by the jury to receive the 'Certificate of Typographic Excellence' from the Type Directors Club (TDC).

Several Right Answers
This two-man team believes that there is no single solution to type design. The project’s objectives can be narrow, but there is more than just one solution. They say the designer doesn’t have to love the type, but the audience does. The designer is concerned about the end-users’ response and feedback when they see the typeface. Type design projects typically are not well tested before they are delivered and there is no proper way to analyze the audience’s response. Although the work of Emami and Bakhtiarifard seems to be perfect in design and implementation, post-research and analytical data is still not conducted. This step is not only important in type design, but it is also important in all fields of design.
The designers, along with their associates, are trying to cover all aspects of the process, such as, standardizing the design, paying attention to the smallest details, creating an ordering and buying system, and, most importantly, incorporating copyright laws.
The Jam-e-Jam typeface, which is used in audiovisual websites, is one of the individual works of Omid Emamian. Garden Books type for Tehran Municipality, Ravi, and Leila are designed by Reza Bakhtiarifard. He has also built and developed sophisticated redesigns of Roya and Yekan typefaces.

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