Maram Al Refaei creates a typeface inspired by cinematic emotion

For the Cairo-based event Film My Design, Maram explores the ways in which its identity could best reference the emotive peaks and troughs of its eclectic programme.

12 January 2023

The world of film and the realm of design have always had something of a love affair. Just last year we saw a beautifully designed ‘cookbook’ from Hato which looked into food in film, and in an enlightening feature we spoke to Tina Charad, a designer who creates typefaces for blockbuster films. Now comes Maram Al Refaei’s dynamic identity for Film My Design (FMD) festival, a curated programme of films and speakers for Cairo’s design week that looks at the relevance of design in cinema.

Unsurprisingly, as a designer, what most attracted Maram to the project was “the opportunity it gave to the audience, spreading inspiration, motivation and admiration towards design and conceptual creations”. The programme’s interaction with design spanned its whole remit exploring architecture, city life, craft, filmmaking, furniture, product and production design and more, thus allowing, as Maram explains, “the Egyptian community to appreciate design through a different medium and presentation and will expand conversations around creative practices”. This opportunity allowed Maram to use her design work in the most innovative of ways, exploring how graphics could represent such a broad and visual selection of subjects. And the result, with its irresistible colour palette, purposefully off kilter typography and tasteful incorporation of stills, is dynamic in its ability to pay homage to the breadth of cinematic culture.


Maram Al Refaei: FMDXCDW Film My Design Screening at Cairo Design Week (Copyright © Maram Al Refaei, 2022)

Approaching the project, Maram watched the trailers of the seven films included in the events programme while writing down detailed first impressions. Maram then watched the entirety of the programme in its order of listing, hoping to find more visual cues for the overall design approach. “I discovered a wavelength full of emotion and energy that transfers the viewer from one feeling to the next,” Maram explains. Then, corresponding to this wavelength, Maram created a conceptual graph, detailing all of the emotive highs and lows.

Showing a journey of great depth and pattern, Maram realised this graph and its thick and thin, sharp and smooth, elements could be a useful visual guide. “I could assign how the typography and graphical elements should look from these visual translations,” Maram expands, “by using condensed, wide, serif, and sans-serif letterforms, I could show the compilation of thick and thin to create movement and differentiation in emotion and boldness.”

This event isn’t the first time Maram has worked alongside FMD, the first occurring when Maram first settled down as a freelance designer in 2022. Coming after several career shifts, Maram’s decision to go freelance – albeit a “tough” one to make – was soon proven to be the correct one after receiving a lot of work from the get go, including the FMD brief. “After many nights of contemplating, I did discover that I was meant to be a freelancer. It is where I find the most joy, and that's because the type of work that I receive resonates with who I am,” Maram shares.

GalleryMaram Al Refaei: FMDXCDW Film My Design Screening at Cairo Design Week (Copyright © Maram Al Refaei, 2022)

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Maram Al Refaei: FMDXCDW Film My Design Screening at Cairo Design Week (Copyright © Maram Al Refaei, 2022)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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