• It’s no secret that I have a thing for typography, in fact in my graduation project I designed Identity, a font built out of Hebrew and Arabic type faces in order to create one cohesive language. But, enought about me, Liron Lavi, a graduate of the Shenkar College, had the same idea in mind and she created Aravrit. I could go on and on about how brilliant this project is and trust me when I say I wanted to share with you more than 30 pictures… And my apologies regarding this super long interview. It’s just that Liron had so much to say and I really wanted her to keep on talking ;) She is really an extraordinarily typographer in the making!

I’d love to hear about you, your journey, how it all began.
Unlike many other designers, I didn’t come form the world of art. I still wonder how I got into Shenkar College with my very limited drawing skills… All of my family are engineers so I consider myself the “black sheep” of the family. Only during my second year of Shenkar – everything came together (Until then I just felt that I needed to study Graphic Design, though it had no direct connection to my life). I discovered Typography (lights, smoke and dramatic music please!) Suddenly, my enormous love for words and letters and the impulse to read whenever and wherever I see text, found its place in the profession of Graphic Design. Since then I focused a lot on typography, trying to neglect my other love – colors (bright, clashing and many of them)
Can you describe your work process for me?
I usually think of ideas, and stock them in my head for later on. Whenever I receive a brief – I begin by going through those ideas to see if anything fits. I’m very passionate about these concepts so the outcome is usually good :)
If not – I take a shower (You read right, a shower) to find an idea during it. Normally it take me about two showers to find a good one. The concept has to be very good since it leads the design during the whole process. Every stroke, color or font must have a reason. After intensive research, I start going through my blog feed, digital libraries and my huge inspiration folder, which consists of many things that earned the right to be there.
Which materials do you work with?
As I mentioned, I work a lot with type. Any old inspiration (all the way to the 17th century) is also welcome. And colors. Many of them. I always work on my computer and my sketchbook is filled with writing instead of sketches.
What is the most unusual piece you have ever designed?
I think it would be Project Project. This is a project that I initiated six month ago, for the purpose of documenting the emotional and mental state of students while working on their graduation project in the department of Visual Communication in Shenkar. Each day, the students marked their mood on a scale from 1 to 10, and added a word or a sentence that reflects how they feel. The idea was to show, for once, the “backstage” of the graduation project from an emotional angle. These four years are very intense, and as shown in the project – the ups and downs are very frequent.
I’d love to hear the story behind your graduation project.
Aravrit is a project of Utopian nature. It presents a set of hybrid letters merging Hebrew and Arabic. This new writing system is composed of an Arabic letter on the upper half and a Hebrew letter on the bottom half. The characteristic features of each letter were retained, however in both languages the fusion required some compromises to be made, yet maintaining readability and with limited detriment to the original script. I designed 638 letters for this writing system in order to write each word and its translation in the other language. There is a glyph for every letter in Arabic combined with every letter in Hebrew.
How familiar were you with Arabic before you started working on your font?
Asides from seeing it on the streets and on road signs all around and mainly in Haifa, I was not familiar with Arabic at all (even at school, we studied French). The project was a good reason to learn something new that is very relevant to our local surrounding. Many people helped me along the way. Charming Arabic students I ran into on the train, which I showed the project to spontaneously, students from “Keren Rothschild” and most of all from my fellow student in Shenkar Shady Mattar, which helped a lot with Arabic translations and legibility issues.

I can understand you wanting to experiment with a new Hebrew font, but why Arabic?
Hebrew and Arabic both emerged from the same sources, and even though Arabic is more flowing and round and Hebrew is more square and “stiff” they share a lot in common. We have three official languages in Israel and although we see them side by side many times, there is never a visual connection between them and they are just placed one next to the other. I wanted to see what I could possibly to do with these situations, and create a strong visual connection that will allow you to read the language you choose – without ignoring the other one, which is always present.
What were the reactions you got to the font?
One of the things I’m most happy about, is that no one stays indifferent to the project. People really like it an relate to it. You are also very satisfied once you succeed to identify a word, and that was where I put a lot of effort. A nice thing I discovered is that each one believes that his language is more legible (readable) than the other one. People have many ideas on how to take this project further – what can be done with it and what to achieve through it.
Now that school is over, what’s next? what is your dream?
Next, is a Masters degree in Typeface design at Reading University in the UK. I’m really looking forward to it, letters are exciting! And after that, coming back to Israel, working and eventually opening my own studio. My dream is to do what I love, while making a living. And of course to be happy and healthy, but that doesn’t relate directly to design :)
Reading calling… What do you hope to achieve while there?
I hope to learn. This program is really great and very professional. There is a lot of reading to do and many typeface designers are coming to teach workshops. In addition, there are people from all over the world, which sounds like real fun. I’m really thrilled about the experience of living abroad for a while, it puts you in perspective.
I’m curious to know where does your inspiration come from?
Like many designers, I find inspiration in pretty much everything… But I would definitely mention old typography posters, old books and libraries. Also, a surprising source is my husband’s agricultural engineering textbooks. There are amazing graphs and diagrams there :) He doesn’t understand why I’m so thrilled about something he doesn’t find inspiring…
Can you tell me which designers inspire you?
I believe that you don’t have to go far in order to find the best answers. Oded Ezer is a person and designer that I admire. In addition of doing such great work, he is always thinking about the future- the next project, how to improve and about the past- he is constantly reading, learning about type and history of Hebrew typography.

In addition to him I love the Maryland design studio Post Typography, Carl kleiner for his great use of colors, the Parisian studio Chevalvert and of course the great Pentagram. In the typeface legends section, I adore Adrian Frutiger.

What about some web sites and blogs that you visit regularly?
I have a “problem” that I believe that many people these days share with me- we have so much to read and follow! I have daily mails arriving to my inbox from Trendland, The Daily Heller, and many more. I have over 150 blogs that I follow through google reader, many more saved in my Pocket (ex read it later) app, inspiration blogs that I browse through like But Does it Float, online magazine like Design Observer and Eye, short videos on Gestalten TV and TED. I also love diving in libraries websites like New York Public Library, the British Library and Shenkar Design Archive & Research Center (which I was lucky to work in for the past four years) that has tremendous amount of incredible Israeli graphic design from the 1900 and on.(I highly recommend it!)
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of the most useful advices I received is definitely “to go through with your ideas”. When I started working on my project I received a lot of “no”s. I’ve been told that I will not be able to complete this project, that it will never be readable, that I will not have enough time to design 638 letters, and so on. I’m so happy that I took this advice and I insisted on this project and many others. I believe that only you know what you are capable of and then challenge yourself some more.
If you had an extra hour each day what would you do with it?
Read, Read, Read and start several blogs (including my secret vegi blog plan…).Oh, and go to the beach.
And finally, please do share something random or quirky about yourself.
when I was 12, someone told me that if two friends pass through different sides of a street pole their routs will be separated. This superstition stuck so badly, that it’s not rare to see me go back several meters because I realized that I passed through a different side than the person who is walking with me… Of course this got worse over the years and now trees and other objects on the street are included (Sometimes even very tall people!) embarrassing, I know…