Typeface Review

29LT Zarid Display

Reviewed by Diane Mikhael on January 19, 2021

Out of a desire to create contrasted letterforms for 29LT Zarid Display, designers Pascal Zoghbi and Ramiro Espinoza sparked an exuberant dialogue between past and present.

The Zarid family continues to grow. Zarid Display, its fifth member, comes in four weights: Light, Regular, Medium, and Bold. Pascal Zoghbi developed Zarid Display Arabic, which was inspired by Thulth and Naskh calligraphic structures but drawn with a modern look. It boasts innovative features found in refined alternates, stylistic sets, and complex ligatures consisting of more than eight hundred glyphs. These typographic features ensure a cohesive amalgam of calligraphic angular cuts and unembellished structure, enhance the stylistic expressions of letterforms for display settings, and sustain the typeface’s legibility.

When one closely studies the anatomy of the Arabic letterforms, one is surprised to see such high contrast applied not only to elements like bowls, eyes, and heads, but also to the right-slanting teeth with extremely thin strokes. While most glyphs in Zarid Display are narrower than those in Zarid Text, forms with tails and terminals have a more pronounced width, revealing the Thuluth influence on their structure. The formal quality of the Thuluth calligraphy style also shows itself in the strokes of vertical stems, which exhibit the pointed and more triangular shapes gleaned from the nib of the calligraphic pen movement at the start and end of the strokes.

These remarkable qualities are well balanced in Ramiro Espinoza’s Latin version of Zarid Display. The letters are fairly condensed; the vertical strokes stand in marked contrast to the thinner strokes determined by the translation of the calligraphy pen’s nib, found in the refined shapes of the bowls and finials. The thin shapes of the serifs, the triangular finials, the open counters, and the diamond dots reflect the same formal quality found in Zarid Arabic. Both scripts are in perfect sync.

29LT Zarid Display presents surprising twists and turns, and brings new dimensions to the way multilingual display typefaces are designed, which will only benefit designers and readers. 29LT is increasingly raising the bar for high-quality multilingual typeface designs, and 29LT Zarid Display is a prime example of this fact.

Diane Mikhael is a design educator, author, curator, and researcher. She is the author of the book Bilingualism in Visual Communication: Visible Forms and Meaning of Arabic and Latin Typography (2017). She holds an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practices (OCAD University, Toronto, Canada), and an MA in Design (Middlesex University, London). Diane holds International recognition from the International Society of Typographic Designers London, (1996). She is the co-founder of the Middle East Design Educators Association (MEDEA).

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