After weeks of roaming the streets of downtown, he managed to not only understand but also embrace the capital’s old heritage. With each visit, he learned something new about an era that was truly glamorous, yet, could not survive the extreme changes of time.
Dido Embaby is a jewellery designer who has always been enchanted by the country’s history and rich stock of typographies. Accordingly, when he heard about the cultural initiative, Khotout West El-Balad, he could not help but join the cause with his intricate jewellery.
Khotout West El-Balad (downtown’s fonts) is a cultural project powered by a number of local calligraphers. The initiative aimed to identify the Arabic fonts that were handwritten on old shop fronts and then create new complete typographies based on them.
Furthermore, the artists’ main goal was to also digitalise these new fonts and make them available for everyone in order to preserve this vanishing element of history.
The signs and banners chosen dated back to the early 20th century. Therefore, the project’s results were both artistic and nostalgic.
Embaby wanted to document this initiative with items that would surpass time and remain intact. Therefore, he chose some quotes that reflect the spirit of downtown Cairo, applied the new fonts, and engraved them on precious materials.
Egypt’s heritage during the early 20th century could not be tackled without remembering Umm Kalthoum. Therefore, Embaby picked a famous line from one of her songs, Khaleny Gambak Khaleny (remain by my side) and turned it into statement jewellery.
Daily News Egypt met with the creative designer to learn more about his love for Arabic calligraphy and the collection that is set to be officially launched next month.
Why did you choose to incorporate Khoutout West El-Balad into your designs?
I was really fond of the cultural initiative, Khotout West El Balad. The calligraphers and designers behind this project invested a great amount of time to collect old fonts that were used in the branding of old downtown shops.
Those fonts have been neglected for many years, therefore, preserving them by creating digital typographies was a great goal.
This initiative and my love of Arabic calligraphy made me eager to spread awareness about the project and the fonts that have been collected.
On a side note, I was also super excited to finally have new Arabic fonts to work and experiment with.
Were the calligraphers involved in your designing process?
No, but I did have the chance to meet a few of them in order to discuss the story behind each font and the progress that led them to choosing these particular fonts.
These meetings helped me learn more about the initiative’s main concept and the detailed story behind it before actually designing any pieces.
Are you dedicating a whole collection to the cultural initiative?
Yes, I believe that this initiative holds great cultural importance. When you actually work with the fonts and turn the results into physical items people will start to acknowledge the project and its importance in preserving a great part of our culture.
How many pieces are you planning to release?
Five pieces as of now, which will incorporate silver and gold along with precious stones.
I tried to concentrate more on gold so that each piece will become more valuable with time. The collection’s main goal is to preserve the fonts through valuable and timeless pieces.
How would you define the essence your jewellery?
I think my jewellery has captured many themes, depending on the inspiration I chose for each collection. For instance, when I am customising jewellery for a specific person, I would define it as bespoke.
Nonetheless, when I am creating my own collection, I define it as genuine and unique because I see myself in each collection that I create.
How does your engineering background influence your career as a designer?
Well, engineering made me more detail-oriented. Furthermore, it taught me to always consider all phases of the manufacturing process when designing each piece.