Design Outside the Canon
The Design Canon in American education focuses mainly on Europe, North America, and sometimes parts of Asia. During one of my design history courses at Maryland Institute College of Art, we took a look into Middle Eastern design principles and typesetting. The gestural typography and its stylistic variability stood out to me the most. I was also starting to learn Arabic at this time, so this lector especially spoke to me. With a deeper dive into Arabic Typography, I’ve learned that many historic designers have come from Tehran. Finding a “new” pocket of type designers in Tehran has opened up a whole new world for me. I feel like Western art programs really miss out on sharing the design of different cultural backgrounds and languages.
As designers, we should widen our toolkit and give ourselves time to find new inspiration. Beauty is universal. You don’t need to understand the language to appreciate it. I’ve pulled together a handful of references that I like to visit from time to time to inspire me. I encourage you to look for your own inspiration outside the Western design canon and see what sparks your interest. Hopefully, some of these references can be your stepping stone.
Designers from Iran to get inspired from.
Morteza Momayez: Morteza Momayez Foundation, has released a two-volume book titled All Illustrations By Morteza Momayez. The work featured not only depicts a wide range of stories, articles, and anecdotes of Iranian and world literature and poetry, but showcases Momayez’s global graphic design.
Ghobad Shiva is an Iranian graphic designer. He graduated in 1966 from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Tehran. He then spent several years acquiring practical experience in graphic art before earning a master’s degree from Pratt University, New York City, in 1980. Then after creating original works over several decades which indeed prompted museums and collectors across the world to add his works to their collections.
Aria Kasaei In 2001, Studiokargah started as a small basement graphic design studio in the center of Tehran. Today, Studiokargah has grown into a medium-sized independent studio that collaborates with cultural institutes inside Iran and around the globe.
Zeynab Izadyar VVORK VVORK VVORK started in 2017, with its custom collection of slow-made, one-of-a-kind items; Wearable Landscapes: Wear a Mountain, Carry a Sun. Made with a combination of carefully collected materials, hand-dyed and marbled fabrics, and unorthodox hand-embroidered details. VVORK VVORK VVORK uses a language of visual poetry created by different media drawing from words and written sounds (in Persian, English, and Arabic).
Masoud Morgan The focus of his work is a conceptual implementation through a strong use of typography in the fields of print, motion, and interactive design.
Sina Fakour is a visual artist, Graphic and type designer based between Lyon and Tehran. He graduated with a BA in Graphic Design from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, after receiving a BSc in Engineering Studies from the Azad University of Tehran. He graduated with a master’s degree in Graphic Design from the École supérieure d’art et design de Valence.