AL ISMAELIA Design & Branding, Case study Downtown Fonts [video] by J. Walter Thompson Cairo

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Downtown Fonts [video]

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Industry Real Estate
Media Design & Branding, Case study
Market Egypt
Agency J. Walter Thompson Cairo
Executive Creative Director Mohamed Hammady
Released March 2016


Cannes Lions 2016
Design Use of Design Craft: Typography: Brand, Corporate & other Communication Design Silver Lion

Credits & Description

Agency: J. Walter Thompson Cairo
Brand: Al Ismaelia For Real Estate Investment
Country: Egypt
Advertising Agency: J. Walter Thompson Cairo
Entrant Company: J. Walter Thompson Cairo
Media Agency: J. Walter Thompson Cairo
Pr Agency: J. Walter Thompson Cairo
Production Company: J. Walter Thompson Cairo
Additional Company: J. Walter Thompson Cairo
Design Agency: J. Walter Thompson Cairo
Senior Designer: Amro Thabit (-)
Managing Director: Mai Azmy (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Film Director: Tariq Ali (-)
Senior Project Manager: Ahmed Helal (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Head Of Design Unit: Ibrahim Islam (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Junior Art Director: Mirna Noaman (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Agency Producer: Shady Abdelaziz (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Design Team: Yosra Gamal (Student)
Animation Studio: Zanad (Zanad)
Executive Director New Business: Mostafa Shady (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Tv Producer: Amr Ashraf (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Project Consultancy/ Type Research: Ghalia Elsrakbi (-)
A/V Director: Karim Fanous (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Executive Creative Director: Mohamed Hammady (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Senior Copy Writer: Adam Mourad (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Design Team: Ahmad Hammoud (Student)
Account Executive: Malak Elnahas (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Senior Art Director: Nardine Shenouda (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Post House: Circle Post Productions (Circle Post Productions)
Project Consultancy/ Type Research: Haytham Nawar (-)
Design Team: Yasser Nazmy (Student)
Senior Planner: Diana George (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Design Team: Nada Hesham (Student)
Production House: Magic Beans Films (Magic Beans Films)
Head Of Production: Reem Megahed (J. Walter Thompson Cairo)
Al Ismaelia for real estate investment is focused on the restoration of old buildings in the Downtown area to their former glory in terms of architecture, while equipping them to today’s needs. The interest of Al Ismaelia in Downtown does not stop at the buildings they acquire, but rather to its historic, cultural and artistic values.We are looking to launch a project that would shed the light on the cultural and artistic side of Downtown. The key objectives of this project is to attract the right type of crowd and reflect the company’s passion and interest in the area beyond its buildings.
Campaign Description:
While Al Ismaelia continue their restoration of several buildings in the neighbourhood, a response to the onslaught of plexiglass-mounted, LED-lit signs obscuring some of the most beautiful architecture in the city, was launched. Khotoot West El Balad is a typographic celebration of the ubiquitous Downtown Cairo shop sign. It is an initiative aimed at preserving the typographical heritage of the hand-painted calligraphy which many are remembered for.To keep this heritage alive, we turned the handmade craft to digital craft by creating a series of typefaces6 Arabic typefaces have been designed, drawing inspiration from original Downtown Cairo shop signs. Every typeface is free to download on the website for all personal and commercial use, providing Arab designers over the chance to express themselves.
Upon launch, artists and designers produced art pieces by drawing inspiration from the six fonts.The project inspired musicians, jewelry designers, foreign artists as well as local press.Massar Egbari, a well known band in Egypt has used the font for their album cover "Chirophobia". Moreover, during one of their concerts at the German university of Cairo, the band projected in the backdrop designs using the font.Jewelry designers such as Dido Embaby, Noha Abbasi and El Agaty (one of the oldest silver jewelers) have also used the fonts to design limited edition pieces for their collections. Dido is currently working on a full product line inspired by "Khotout West El Balad". The Shorook newspapers, a daily newspaper in Egypt with a wide reach used the fonts for one of their headlines to celebrate the project in one of their editions.
A project to document the fonts of Downtown Cairo and to recreate them is not only needed but also falls at the core of what Al-Ismaelia is about; the restoration and preservation of the neighborhood and its revival in contemporary times.The fonts were then offered for free on the website as a way to give back to the artists/designers community who were constantly in search for inspirational fonts drawn from their own culture and language. To advertise the typefaces, a series of vintage-styled posters were created, celebrating the iconic landmarks which inspired.To document the project, a book was written explaining the project stages, from research, history and culture findings to fonts inspirations and details.
Six Arabic typefaces were crafted & developed each drawing inspiration from a vintage hand-lettered shop sign from Downtown Cairo, preserving the typographic heritage of the city and immortalizing it in the form of digital typefaces free for personal and commercial use. Each typeface was named after the sign it was created after, paying homage to the original sign itself, and then was displayed on our website, where you can download each font of your choice. The typefaces quickly caught the attention of numerous designers, more specifically independent designers and students, because of the scarcity of available Arabic typefaces and the expense of the available ones. Several local designers, musicians, coffee shops as well as a local newspaper that quickly put the typefaces. In addition to that, designers around the world adopted the typefaces and created content with them as well.