Designers: Juliet Shen and Mamoun Sakkal
Release Date: 2016
Back story: AwanZaman, a lovely typeface for our multilingual times, was developed as a display face for a Kuwaiti newspaper looking to modernize its type treatments. Awan is based on the geometric forms of Kufic script, while Zaman adds calligraphic Naskh details, all nicely coordinated with the family’s Latin letterforms.
Why’s it called AwanZaman? Aside from name-checking the Arabic styles that give the typeface its clean, universal look, the “A-Z” is a subtle semiotic hint towards the font’s versatility, too.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Designed for editorial uses, AwanZaman marries Latin and Arabic characters in perfect harmony; it’s just a really well thought out mix of forms. In general, Latin alphabets don’t have the same visual flow as Arabic letterforms, so Shen had to strike a delicate balance to keep everything holding together. The solution? Introducing more curved and novel forms to her Latin characters. Sans serif with a tall x-height and open counters, the Latin characters have a similar stroke width to the Arabic’s unified strokes, and work with the squared curves and formal personality of Awan as well as the rippling, more playful shapes of Zaman without looking odd, a difficult trick to pull off. The programming supports Persian and Urdu, too. Sweet!
What should I use it for? Excellent for print publication designs where both Latin and Arabic text and headlines are called for (no kidding!) but also beautiful in display uses for screens.
Who’s it friends with? Its range of weights and styles, plus built-in language duality, makes AwanZaman an independent, one-stop-shopping choice for most typographic uses. But if you have the need to add in a more neutral Latin font, the slightly condensed letterforms of FF Din or the chunkier shapes of Monotype Between feel about right.