A dual-script sans begun in geometric Arabic, cleverly and harmoniously advanced into Latin.
The AwanZaman font family has a three-phase story, beginning with Dr Mamoun Sakkal’s two Arabic styles and culminating with Juliet Shen’s Latin extension. AwanZaman started as simply Awan, a commission for a modern, clean, monoline typeface for writing headlines and story titles in a forward-thinking Kuwaiti newspaper. Awan was based on the geometric forms of Kufic script, while in phase two, a second typeface (Zaman) was designed to add enough calligraphic Naskh details to make it easy to read in demanding newspaper settings. Together these two phases give the typeface a warm, familiar, and progressive look, as well as an explanatory two-part name — AwanZaman.
Since most editorials use typical Naskh headline fonts with an exaggerated baseline, Awan’s rational forms immediately distinguish it as a modern and progressive voice in the crowded field of Arabic editorial typefaces. As the companion Arabic typeface, Zaman has the same basic proportions and forms as Awan, but with many cursive, energetic, and playful details. And since modern monoline fonts are increasingly being used to set extended texts, more features were borrowed from Naskh calligraphy to expand the typeface’s use from headlines into text setting.
When using the AwanZaman Arabic family, Awan (geometric Kufic forms) is the starting point. To add the sweeping, energetic personality of Zaman (calligraphic Naskh forms), simply activate an alternate character through the option of 20 stylistic sets available in any OpenType-savvy software. The two typefaces function as one file — the AwanZaman Arabic family — allowing users to combine features from both designs to transform the appearance of text from geometric and formal to playful and informal.
The third phase of AwanZaman’s development introduced a companion Latin typeface designed by Juliet Shen to fulfil the persistent need in the Arabic fonts market for modern and geometric bilingual type families. Due to the Arabic’s monolinear strokes, AwanZaman Latin was destined to be a sans serif with a tall x-height, larger counters, and corresponding stem thickness to harmonise with the Arabic’s overall text colour and page presence. But it needed much more.
One of AwanZaman’s chief assets is making the two languages look on a par when typeset side by side. Arabic and English readers will have a different sense of what that entails, but this type family defers to the Arabic — graceful and artistic with a good mix of straight stems and curved forms. Latin in general doesn’t aesthetically flow the way Arabic does, yet the tone of the Latin needed to mirror both the Arabic’s more squarish curves and formal personality of Awan and the undulating and more playful shapes of Zaman without looking outlandish. That need was met by creating some novel Latin characters, which are accessed through four stylistic sets the same way as AwanZaman Arabic. The alternates are not just clever in the way they look and how they echo the Arabic aesthetic, but also in harmonising the disparate languages and serving designers well when needing a balanced, bilingual text face with a warm and lively voice.
AwanZaman is a clever, seven-weight powerhouse that makes extensive use of OpenType’s stylistic sets (20 in the Arabic and four in the Latin) so writers and designers can make the most of everything from a single glyph in display sizes down to dense text in paragraphs. As AwanZaman Arabic has no italic, neither does the Latin; contextual distinction normally handled by italics is achieved by exploiting the family’s seven weights. AwanZaman’s intricate OpenType programming supports Persian and Urdu, with features such as the returning tail of Barri Yeh treated properly. From its inception in geometry to its melding of two worlds with novel forms, AwanZaman is a personal labor by designers Dr Mamoun Sakkal and Juliet Shen, and embodies the TypeTogether ideals of serving the global community with innovative and stylish typeface solutions. The complete AwanZaman Arabic and Latin families, along with our entire catalogue, have been optimised for today’s varied screen uses.