Nkemdiche: Why We Do Not Grow Beards, published by Ọkpara House, is a classic Igbo folklore that takes place in an otherworldly time when women grew beards. It is a genesis story of African women and their knack for elaborate hairdos that we have come to admire and love them for today.
The cover was designed to celebrate the protagonist Nkemdiche and her beautiful beard. By setting Lucie Van der Elst’s illustration of Nkemdiche to break from the color-blocks we created a sense of dimension around the decorated beard — this is further emphasized by the book’s title dropping behind the beard.
Nkemdiche, an Igbo term that translates to “mine is different”, is set in Minérale, a shapely typeface from 205TF that reflects the unique and creative qualities Nkemdiche was known for in her beard styling. The body text of the book is set in Kigelia from Jamra Patel. Kigelia is “the first-ever system of fonts designed to coordinate in character the most prominent writing systems in Africa”. Begun in 2014, this typeface was designed by Mark Jamra and Neil Patel from in-depth research and consultation with script and language experts, both inside and outside the respective language communities that use these scripts.
Through art and design objects, prints, and various media, Ọkpara House’s mission is to harness the power of good design, dialogue, and academic research as powerful agents to stimulate, reactive, elevate, and reimagine Igbo culture. Through this, they are reclaiming and asserting the relevance of Igbo culture on contemporary lifestyles within and beyond the Igbo community.