Type Tuesday: Lyon Arabic

Posted inInternational Design
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Lyon has long been a mainstay of Commercial Type’s stable—and now it has an Arabic counterpart, expanding its global reach even further.

Kai Bernau designed the original Lyon in 2009 as a riff on Robert Granjon’s serif typefaces from the 16th century. Khajag Apelian and Wael Morcos’ Lyon Arabic is completely redrawn, and the product of two years of work. Their goal: Attaining the immense readability of the original Lyon—which they achieved via typographic inspiration from the calligraphic Islamic script Naskh.

“Like the Latin,” Morcos writes, “the design of the Arabic maintains simplified constructions and embraces straightforward detailing with a visible digital touch, making for a crisp texture and a robust appearance comfortable for reading at small sizes.”

Complementing the typeface is Lyon Arabic slanted, a redrawn variant inspired by the fluidity and angles of the Persian and Urdu Nastaliq, building “on the long tradition of using calligraphic variants to bring multiple levels of hierarchy in written and printed manuscripts.

All told, the typefaces do the original Lyon justice—and maintain their own sense of personality and perspective in the process.

“Both cuts are expressions of one design concept mixing tradition and innovation with the ultimate goal to enrich the Arabic typographic palette,” Morcos writes.

Next up: A display version of Lyon Arabic in early 2021. Stay tuned.

Lyon Arabic Text in use for "Arabesque," an exhibition by Rayyane Tabet at the Storefront for Architecture in New York. Graphic Design by Morcos Key. Photography by Zeina Zeitoun

Lyon Arabic Text in use for "Rights of Future Generations," published with the inaugural Sharjah Architecture Triennial. Graphic Design by Morcos Key