To create you must be aware of traditions, but in order to maintain traditions you must create something new –said Carlos Fuentes, the renowned Mexican journalist and writer (1929-2012). Rawad Dalal, a graduate of the Master of Communication Design Labs, wanted to preserve Arab tradition by transmitting it to younger generations so that it would not be forgotten. He does this in Lebanon, from graphic design and using his culture’s proverbs. Thus, was created Metlomateyil, his “something new”. Rawad tells us everything about the typographical images that will be collected and published in a book.
He is a Lebanese-Brazilian graphic designer who grew up in an artistic family. He graduated with honours in Typography from the Notre Dame University of Beirut and went on to enter the world of publishing in Kuwait. After seven years as head of national and international brands in an advertising agency in the Gulf, he became Director of Art and head of the Art Department.
He came to Madrid with the aim of living an experience in Europe that would boost his career, and studied for a Master of Communication Design Labs. He was Director of Art in DMA Partners before deciding to return to Beirut, his hometown, where he now works as a Professor of Design in the most prestigious universities in Lebanon.
Metlomateyil began as a small personal project launched with Atelier de l’Art Plastique in 2015. This small step spread the designer’s work, allowing him to give a twist to the project and transform it into a book compilation of all those Arab proverbs –that play an important role in the everyday conversations of Arab speakers– as typographic images. Moreover, throughout 2017, the compilation will be launched at important events in Dubai and Kuwait and will be accompanied by an exhibition.
Tell us about the Metlomateyil project and the meaning of its name.
Metlomateyil is a project that I always wanted to do, to redesign the old Lebanese proverbs and present them in a book in a new context based on Arabic typography mixed with graphic visual design. The purpose of the project is to archive those proverbs that played, and still play, an important role in our culture and to introduce them in a new way to the new generations, so they keep on using them. The name is a slang word in Lebanon, used to demonstrate the proverb but in a funny way. And from here I wanted to give a creative name that combines the meaning of the project with the spoken language that we use every day.
What led you to want to claim the value of Arab proverbs through graphic design?
Being a designer and having graduated as a typographer opened the door for me to present my project in a new way that maintains both the authenticity of the proverb and its meaning with the new design perspectives that scope with the modern lifestyle. I wanted those proverbs to be used once more by our generation by presenting them in an attractive visual way. I have searched a lot for that new door through which to enter with my project so I can give it a unique identity that wasn’t presented before.
In your professional life, you have gone from working at an advertising agency to spending your time in the classrooms of the best national and international universities in Lebanon. What led you to make this change?
After working for almost 8 years in advertising, I saw the need to open new doors in my design career. In my working life I was responsible for the new graduates who were doing internships in advertising agencies. I saw then my ability to guide someone who was still fresh in this domain and later to prepare him/her for the real world. My experience showed me that there was a gap between the time when the student graduates and when he/she begins working in the real world. So I later began working in universities in order to fully devote myself to teaching so I can introduce those students to what it is like to be a designer in the real world. Moreover, and because I have worked in many cultures, I wanted to show them what is needed to be a designer in the Lebanese, the Gulf or the European market, keeping in mind the need to keep them updated on the latest trends in the design world.
Tell us about your time at the Master of Communication Design Labs
My master year has played an important role on many levels of my life. It introduced me to a new market that I was intrigued to know about, and to new people who provided me with new ideas about a career in design. Through the courses and my daily life in Madrid, I learned new techniques related to design thinking and strategies to present new communicative solutions for daily problems. The construction of the master enabled me to look with a fresh eye at the design market, and to see things from a new angle. Moreover, I built strong connections that have helped me to collaborate with successful designers from all around the world.
You have travelled all over the world, and speak three languages, where do you see yourself in the future?
We always keep on learning, I knew that I needed to get working experience in design and later I studied the educational side of this career. Having been on both sides in the last 10 years has made me think of new projects like “Metlomateyil” with which I have taken part in important exhibitions in Lebanon, Kuwait and Dubai. The future keeps getting updated day by day, and we, as designers, need to always think of new ways to enhance our career. And for that I always keep an eye on the next step. What I know is that liking what you do is happiness and the true key to success. And that is the reason I love my career and will never say “this is the end”. So let’s see what the future holds, but for sure I will be there creating new projects
If you speak Arabic, don’t miss the interview on the Lebanese TV channel Al Ghad Al Arabi, in which Rawad Dalal talks about his projects.