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Letters of Identity


Fady Dow

Design Management and Innovation track

Mentor — 

Hadas Zemer Ben-Ari

Arabic calligraphy: An abstract ornamental art. The letters' identity can be emphasized through the character of the Arabic letter.

Arabic Calligraphy - A form of art based on abstractionism and ornamentation. Identity can be emphasized through the character of the Arabic letters that has continually evolved to become a tool of communication across cultures.

Shadi gets up in the morning after studying for his final Arabic exam. He decides not to wear the Nike shirt that all his friends wear, and instead chooses the artistic Arabic calligraphy shirt he bought for himself, thinking it’s special. It’s in Arabic, and also fits his jeans, and the text written on it – “I think, therefore I am” – أنا أفكر اذا انا موجود – will give him positive energy throughout the day.

Walking down a street that does not know Arabic is quite a challenge, but nonetheless, Shadi takes the risk and wants to turn it into an opportunity – maybe someone on the street will ask him what is written. He leaves his home confidently and notices the looks on his cool shirt and thinks to himself: I’m special. Happy and smiling, he arrives and his friends just love the new fashion. After school, a Jewish boy asks him: "What’s written on your shirt? It’s really beautiful and interesting." Full of smiles and self-confidence, Shadi feels special, privileged, feels he has succeeded. "Identity, is the perception of man himself and the perception of others him ".

Twenty-three Arabic-speaking teenagers completed questionnaires in the spirit of visual sociology, which studies society by observing visual aspects, clothing and behavior. 63.6% like wearing black, and 59.1% are willing to wear text in Arabic. They also completed questionnaires in the spirit of “fairness design,” an approach that focuses on minority communities and how inequality can be addressed. I am interested in the way calligraphy can impact fairness in design. It is considered to facilitate calm, serenity and balance. The form of expression is intimate, personal and spontaneous. Like a fingerprint or a voice.

I am inspired by Kamil Dow, an expert in Arabic calligraphy, who uses letters to create a painting while following the rules of writing. I also draw inspiration from street photographer Hans Eikelbaum, who directs his lens to the clothes of passers-by and displays them sorted by categories he sees from chest height.

Arabic attracts young people like a work of art. They are willing to impress others with their language and wear something that represents their Arab identity. You can write many sentences on clothes that may strengthen the Arab identity, like local poetry, proverbs and sayings that have become cultural assets for members of all ethnicities in Israel. Wearing a shirt with Arabic text can convey inner strength and courage.

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Fady Dow

Fady Dow is an industrial designer, teacher, and founder of DOWDESIGN. He was born in Haifa, Israel, to a Finnish mother and a Christian Arab father, who is also an artist and calligrapher. He has experienced all cultures – Palestinian-Arab, Israeli, and Finnish – which had a huge impact on his artistic style. Dow has presented exhibitions and design projects in many cities around the world. His designs are powerful and gentle at the same time, with minimalist elements, strong colors and geometric shapes, woven together in a fascinating interaction.

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