Archief Cairo on reviving the world’s only letterpress with hieroglyphics

Dialling in from Cairo, Hana Neuman and Maram Al Refaei tell us about the best kept orientalist printing house in the world.

17 June 2021


Kicking off June’s Nicer Tuesdays was Archief Cairo, the design collective based in the Egyptian capital known for capturing the city’s ancient typography through all five senses. Hana Neuman and Maram Al Refaei took us through the collective’s work that's dedicated to the research, preservation and communication of Egyptian design culture. Also a multilingual lab for research, Hana and Maram opened the talk by giving us a taste of Archief Cairo’s portfolio to date, which includes visual identities, workshops, research projects and more. Next, we're taken to the bulk of their talk; a side project reviving the world’s only letterpress with hieroglyphics.

In the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology, there is a small room built in 1907 which houses the best orientalist printing house in the world. It’s been Archief Cairo’s mission to research every artefact in that room, starting with heavy study into the artefacts with the aim of restoring the room’s content to its former glory. This highly fascinating talk takes us through the Egyptologist who designed the hieroglyphics (over 7,500 of them) for the printing press. Shedding light on how one would construct a sentence using the various hieroglyphic glyphs – an incredibly detailed process which would take seven years to print one book – this informative talk touches on history, culture, language and more.

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