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Photo El Tahrir sign, Cairo

Contributed by Owen Gardner on Apr 3rd, 2020.
    Photo El Tahrir sign, Cairo
    Photo: Owen Gardner. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Cairo, and particularly its downtown, is so densely packed with eye-scrambling vernacular design, this weird mashup barely caught my attention.

    Arnold Böcklin’s Arabic counterpart, an interesting if not terribly successful attempt to adapt Latin letterforms (possibly inspired by Arlette Boutros' Boutros Jawaher), is اليكس. I believe “تصوير فورى” (instant photography[?]) is set in Advertising Medium and “(HIG)H DEFINITION COLOR” in faux-italic Helvetica.

    Mofid Mahdi is seen all over Cairo, as I assume it has been for decades. It contains its own set of Latin characters (at least in digital form), but they don’t feel particularly related to the Arabic set (a missed opportunity for sure) so Compacta is as good a choice as any. Normande Italic is an elegant surprise hiding under the clunky portmanteau, reminding one of the Belle Époque architecture lying beneath the dizzying palimpsest of downtown Cairo.

    Typefaces

    • Arnold Böcklin
    • Mofid Mahdi
    • Compacta
    • Helvetica
    • Advertising Medium
    • Normande
    • اليكس

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