Studio 40Mustaqel challenges the discourse of design in the Arab Swana region

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Studio 40Mustaqel challenges the discourse of design in the Arab Swana region


When the studio created the publication design for A World Unplugged, it needed to respond carefully to the themes of isolation, mental health, personal tragedy and escapism. A World Unplugged is a collection of stories and meditations about living in a post-Covid world, art director Mina Maurice explains. “Each piece is a peek into the ever shifting relationship between mankind, technology and social media in a world plagued by a pandemic.” In response, the team dreamed up a design which drew from pixelated motifs, meme language and cyberculture. Arabic type is used throughout as a medium for exploring these “visual cues”.

Another project which offered interesting conceptual challenges for the team was their work on Instinct, a publication exploring the “nature of being human”, says art director, Hussein Salem. With a subject as abstract as the human psyche, the challenge was to “dissect and analyse” it successfully through a visual lens. “Staying true to the rawness of the human anatomy – skin folds and tones, irises, hands and muscles”, Hussein continues, “we extracted visual motifs as well as a neutral and raw skin colour palette to reflect the human being as an instinctual creature in nature, contrasted against an acidic neon green type treatment.”

The team are now looking forward to kickstarting their own publishing practice with their biannual and bilingual paperback print called Publication 40Mustaqel. With their experience in crystallising complex ideas through innovative design, the publication promises to be an exciting new development for the studio, allowing it to extend its creative reach and build collaborative opportunities for the future.



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