From 5 to 7 November 2022 a special issue of ISType – Mukaddeme – will be held at the occasion of the book launch of Arabic Typography: History and Practice. Generously organised by one of its authors, Onur Yazıcıgil, and the ISType team, mukaddeme (from the Arabic word مقدّمه), means introduction, and this one-day conference introduces the main publication of TypoArabic, providing a stellar closing event for the project. Hosted at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum in Istanbul and facilitated by the Sabancı University, it reflects the book’s approach, bringing together historical research and contemporary design. Speakers include leading authorities in Arabic typography and calligraphy and the book’s authors, weaving together perspectives from design, research, and interdisciplinary practices.

It is particularly meaningful, and a great honour, that this event is held in Istanbul. Not only is the venue, the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, one of the foremost collections of Islamic calligraphy, but also the city of Istanbul was the location for some of the most important developments of Arabic typographic history. Here operated the print shop of İbrahim Müteferrika, the first Muslim to use letterpress in the Middle East, and dynasties of punchcutters worked in this city, producing milestones of Arabic type-making whose influence was felt throughout the entire Middle East. The output of the Imperial print shops of Istanbul was copied abroad, notably by the famous Egyptian Būlāq press, and private presses like Fāris al-Shidyāq’s al-Jawā’ib were central for the formation of a regional print culture.

Istanbul thus provides the ideal background for a presentation and discussion of Arabic Typography: History and Practice. The city and the work of its craftspeople feature prominently throughout the book, and many of the threads that it discusses can be picked up quite literally on the footsteps of the venue and its surrounds.