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Li Beirut typeface by Nadine Chahine

Global designers collaborate on Li Beirut typeface to support victims of blast

Beirut-born type designer Nadine Chahine has commissioned a typeface from contributors including Erik Spiekermann and Mamoun Sakkal to raise funds for victims of the devastating explosion in Beirut.

Li Beirut, which means "For Beirut" in Arabic, consists of over 300 glyphs and was designed by 157 creatives from all over the world.

The glyphs have been combined into a working typeface that can be downloaded as part of the fundraiser.

Li Beirut typeface by Nadine Chahine
157 global creatives came together to create the typeface

The project started as a way for Chahine to help support the city of Beirut after the blast on 4 August.

"The blast was a very short drive from our family home, and the areas affected are ones I know very well," she told Dezeen.

"So many of my friends in the design community immediately called or texted and I knew that many more would want to show support, so I just started reaching out to designer friends to see if they would want to work together to fundraise."

Li Beirut typeface by Nadine Chahine
Designers could choose to create any letter or symbol they wanted to

The resulting submissions came from designers including Chahine herself, Jean-François Porchez, Jessica Hische, Erik Spiekermann, Martina Flor, Tobias Frere-Jones, and Hannes von Doehren.

Arabic designers taking part include Mamoun Sakkal, Bahia Shehab, Khajag Apelian, Wael Morcos, Yara Khoury, Kristyan Sarkis, and Maha Akl.

Designers could create any letter, number or symbol they wanted in Arabic or Latin lettering, with the Arabic letter Waw and the Latin letter B the most popular. The final collection includes letters from both alphabets.

Li Beirut typeface by Nadine Chahine
The final font will have both Arabic and Latin letters

"The font includes decorative isolated Arabic letters and Latin capitals as well as Arabic numerals and a few symbols, all in one font file, together symbolising the solidarity of the international community with Beirut and its people," Chahine said.

Her personal favourite is the design that ended up being used as the campaign logo.

"It's the word Beirut drawn in the shape of a heart, designed by award-winning designer Mamoun Sakkal," she said. "It's simple and yet very powerful."

Li Beirut typeface by Nadine Chahine
Funds raised will go to charities and organisations in Beirut

Li Beirut launched a crowdfunder on 18 August that will sell both the typeface itself and related merchandise – including postcards, alphabet posters and a print catalogue of the work – to raise funds for Beirut. All products will be printed and shipped from Beirut.

"The funds will go to UK-based charities that are operating in Lebanon, starting with the Red Cross and Save the Children," Chahine told Dezeen.

"Because I’m based in London and accountable for taxes there, donating to UK charities means that we get more funds going towards the charitable work itself instead of taxes."

The initiative is also looking for other charities or NGOs that support small businesses and designers.

Chahine has previously created typefaces including Frutiger Arabic, Neue Helvetica Arabic, Univers Next Arabic, Palatino and Palatino Sans Arabic, and Koufiya.

In her former role at typeface design specialist Monotype she was one of the designers, together with Malou Verlomme, who gave Transport for London's 100-year-old Johnston typeface an upgrade.