31st January, 2018 by Kimya Gandhi
I have always been intrigued by Israeli culture and cuisine, so when an email appeared one day inviting me to conduct a workshop at the “Indian Design Week” in Jerusalem I jumped at the opportunity! This impressive event was hosted by the Bezalel Academy of Arts, and was made possible mostly thanks to the amazing organization of Anat Katsir. For the last three years, the Bezalel Academy has hosted an international design week, inviting designers from different countries to share their work and conduct workshops with the Visual Communication students. I was fortunate to be a part of this event, alongside five other Indian designers: Dr. Rathna Ramanathan, Dr. Nina Sabnani, Lokesh Karekar, Ranganathan Krishnamani and Madhav Nair. The Bezalel Academy & the workshops were incredible, traveling in Israel & experiencing the local culture was unforgettable, and all the warm people and delicious food were the best!
My workshop was aimed at appreciating and celebrating the diversity of scripts from India and eventually creating a typographic dialogue between Hebrew and Devanagari. We started the week with an overview of Indian scripts from different parts of the country — a visual type journey through India!
The first activity was to sort the many scripts/letterforms from India – full credits for this game go to Fiona Ross.
We then focused on looking specifically at Devanagari letterforms, understanding the anatomy, practicing handwritten and calligraphic letterforms with some help from our Devanagari Funbooks and Ek Type’s calligraphy manual.
The students then learned how to write their names in Devanagari (which turned out to also be a useful exercise for me – I got to memorize everyone’s names by transliterating them!).
The students were getting introduced to a completely new script, so no specific final outcome was defined at the beginning. They were encouraged to create a bilingual typographic object (2D or 3D) that came from a concept or experience that they associate with India. To my surprise, many of the students had traveled to India, and that informed their expression of what they wanted to say in their final design. Some started with words, some with personal experiences, some with visual inspirations; they then thought of an appropriate medium to represent their idea.
The atmosphere on the last day at the school was electric, as the students displayed their work in each workshop, and opened doors to the public. The final exhibit was a wide variety of different thoughts– some serious, some funny and some incredibly beautiful. I was overwhelmed by the hard work this talented group put in just in a matter of four days. Here are some images from the exhibition.
And if you can read Hebrew, there is an in depth article about my workshop over at the Israeli xnet design blog. Thank you to Oded Ben Yehuda for the interview and write up!
Being so immersed in the Hebrew script for this week I quickly began to appreciate the beauty of the Alef-Bet so I’ve started learning the Hebrew script (Rob also began work on a new Hebrew typeface for an upcoming release!). This is some of my practice in my room after the workshop – please ignore how I completely forgot to do it right to left!
A big thank you, to Anat, her team and the most importantly the students, whose relentless efforts made this week so intense and very enriching. I also thank all my fellow presenters, I could not have imagined a more fun group to do this with! I cherish these memories we made together and I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity.
Thank you also to Gal Sonnenfeld for being a great assistant throughout the trip.