The American University in Cairo Press
On Saturday 28 November, AUC Press celebrated the launch of its newest book, ‘A History of Arab Graphic Design,’ with the authors, Bahia Shehab and Haytham Nawar. The event was held in Ewart Hall, on the AUC Tahrir Campus, and in the presence of almost a hundred attendees, from graphic design students and professors, to journalists and friends of AUC Press.
The authors dedicated their hour-long presentation “to all the forgotten Arab designers,” noting that their book is “only the beginning,” since many more designers from the Arab world still merit wider recognition. “We are simply scratching the surface,” said Shehab, a Lebanese designer and practicing artist who is professor and founder of the graphic design program at AUC and the founding director of TYPE Lab.
In the question and answer session that followed, Haytham Nawar, who is associate professor of design and chair of the department of the arts at AUC, said he hoped one day to see “a museum dedicated to Arab graphic design,” since there is no institution today devoted to collecting and archiving this creative heritage of the Arab world.
Bahia Shehab (MA ’09), professor of practice in the Department of the Arts and Haytham Nawar, chair of the Department of the Arts, coauthored a book titled A History of Arab Graphic Design (AUC Press, 2020) highlighting the history of Arab graphic design and featuring the work of over 80 Arab designers. The book will be used as a reference for the DSGN 315/3115 course- History of Graphic Design in the Arab world.
“I grew up learning about the history of graphic design only from a Western perspective. None of the books I came across mentioned any Arab graphic designers. As a young designer living and working in the Arab world the idea that I had no history was very unsettling. As the years passed I started coming across the work of different designers from the Arab world and realized that it is not that I do not have a history as an Arab designer, the fact is simply that no one has written it yet! A History of Arab Graphic Design is the first textbook with an overview on the history of Arab graphic design featuring the work of over 80 Arab designers. It will be used in our course DSGN 315/3115 – History of Graphic Design in the Arab world to shed light on the topic. We are the only university in the region offering critical history courses on the history of Arab design and visual culture. We are hoping that our book will be added to the international canon on the topic and will be the first step towards decolonizing the history of design in the region,” said Bahia Shehab (MA ’09), professor of practice in the Department of the Arts.
“Personally, I feel that this book is much needed as there is a lack of design references and sources in and about the Arab World. We hope with this book to bring to the light a different history of graphic design than the one people are used to. Also, we have prepared a new design course for the graphic design major at AUC called History of Graphic Design. This book will be the main reference for the course where we intend to educate our students about their past with the hope to give them the tools for a better future,” said Haytham Nawar, chair of the Department of the Arts.
Click here to purchase the book on Amazon.