H. (Huda) Smitshuijzen-AbiFarès

  • PhD student
  • Middle Eastern Studies

Fields of interest

Design history and criticism, design research, book design and typography.

PhD research

Modernity and Arabic Book Design
Supervisor: Jan Just Witkam

Design whether for new media, or old media such as printed books and publications, influences our daily lives. It also reflects the Zeitgeist. The relationship between the social movements, the struggles of defining Arab identity and national identity, the desire to join the world’s modernist movements while keeping a link to the Arab heritage, all this has never been studied in relation to visual design and specifically to book design. This research will chart and analyze these developments by examining Arabic book publishing, looking at the productions of a number of publishers in Cairo and Beirut. The influence of cultural exchange on the development of the 20th century Arab visual culture will be examined in light of the strategies for modernization and the appropriation of foreign/Western design conventions and/or the invention of new culturally specific ones.


Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Yale University School of Art. 1990.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Rhode Island School of Design. 1987.

Design research and consultancy
Founding Creative Director. The Khatt Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Since 2004.

Editor of the Khatt Foundation online creative network: http://www.khtt.net/
Since 2007.

Associate Professor and Chair of the Visual Communication Department.
American University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 2000-2008.

Assistant Professor, Architecture and Design Department.
American University in Beirut, Lebanon. 1994-1996 / 1998-1999.

Arab Fund for Arts and Culture. Visual Arts research grant. 2008-2011.

Fonds BKVB & Mondriaan Foundation. Curatorial grant for the design research project: ‘Typographic Matchmaking in the City”. 2008-2010.

Fonds BKVB: Pilot Project grant for the design research project : ‘Typographic Matchmaking”. 2005-2007.


Typographic Matchmaking in the City. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès, Editor. Khatt Books, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 2011.

“Creative Contemporary Design in the Arab World”.
Cultural Expression, Creativity and Innovation. Cultures and Globalization Series. 2010. Helmut K. Anheier and Yudhishthir Raj Isar, Editors. SAGE Publications. London 2010

“Arabic Typography: the Core of Contemporary Middle Eastern Visual Culture”. Arabesque, Graphic Design from the Arab World and Persia. Ben Wittner, Sacha Thoma, and Nicolas Bourquin, Editors. Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 2008.

Typographic Matchmaking. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès. BIS Publishers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 2007.  

Experimental Arabic Type. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès. Published by Saatchi & Saatchi ME. Dubai, UAE. 2002.

Arabic Typography, a comprehensive sourcebook. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès. Published by Saqi Books. London, UK. 2001.

Papers (journals and magazines) 
“Building Cultural Bridges: Arabic Typography's Role in Contemporary Visual Culture of the Middle East”. Paper presented at the Third International Symposium on the History of Printing and Publishing in the Languages and Countries of the Middle East, part of 24th Congress of the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants (UEAI). University of Leipzig, Leipzig 2008. (publication forthcoming 2012)

“Khatt : Typographic Design in Networked Societies”. Paper presented at the Xin: Icograda World Design Congress Beijing 2009

“Typographic Matchmaking in the City, Arabic Type and Urban Identity”. Paper presented at the Transnational Tide and the Future of the Arab City conference. American University of Beirut, Yale Arab Alumni Association, Beirut 2009.

“Arabic Type as Cultural Identity”. Paper presented at the 2nd Symposium on the History of Printing in the Middle East. Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Paris, France 2006. Journal of Semitic Studies, Supplement 24. Edited by Philip Sadgrove. Oxford: Oxford University Press, on behalf of the University of Manchester, 2008.

“The Font Line”. Communicate, issue #36. Dubai 2007.

“Arabic Type and Middle Eastern Design Culture”. Neshan, issue #14. Teheran, 2007.

“Typographic Matchmaking”. Paper presented at the Kitabat, Arabic Calligraphy and Typography Conference. American University in Dubai. Dubai 2006.

“Arabic Typeface Design Now”. Bidoun, issue #6. New York 2006.

“Dubai Inc”. Bidoun, issue #4. New York 2005.

“Fresh Perspectives, the new Arabic typography”. Paper presented at the Tasmeem Doha conference, Doha 2005, and for the second time at the Typographic Beirut conference. Lebanese American University. Beirut 2005.

“Young Trailblazers, Experimental Arabic Type”. Paper presented at the ATypI Conference “Between Text and Reader”. Published in Baseline Magazine, issue #43. Bradbourne Publishing. Kent 2004.

“Origins and Encounters, the mystical beauty of Arabic calligraphy”. Bidoun, issue #2. New York 2004.

“Multi-lingual Design for a Global Culture”. Paper presented at the 5th European Design Conference, “Techné, Design Wisdom”. University of Barcelona, Barcelona 2003.

“Multi-Cultural Trends in Typographic Design”. ArabAd. Dubai 2003.

“Arabic Typography, Call for a Cultural Rebirth”. Paper presented at the Symposium on the History of Printing in the Middle East, at the WOCMES (World Organisation of Middle Eastern Studies) Conference. Gutenberg Museum. Mainz 2002. Published in Journal of Semitic Studies, Supplement 15. Edited by Philip Sadgrove. Oxford: Oxford University Press, on behalf of the University of Manchester, 2004.

“Arabic Type: a challenge for the third millennium”. Baseline Magazine, issue #26. Bradbourne Publishing. Kent 1998.

Last Modified: 31-01-2013