The American University of Beirut (AUB) has always sought to be a globally distinctive, exemplary institution of higher education that trains ethical leaders for just, peaceful, resilient, and relevant societies. The
Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) is a great example of that mission. MSFEA empowers individuals to forge their own meaningful life paths by addressing humanity's most difficult challenges via education and research of the highest caliber.
It brings us great amounts of pride and joy to witness our own MSFEA alumni forging their own paths in the world and achieving impressive strides in their careers. With the Alumni Spotlight series, we want to draw attention to the successes of our students as we sit down with each of them to get a deeper insight on their journeys.
Today's post honors Dr. Nadine Chahine, MSFEA's
graphic design graduate. She is an award-winning Lebanese type designer, the CEO at
I Love Typography Ltd, and the principal at
“My time at MSFEA, AUB, showed me the beauty and legacy of Arabic calligraphy and it was the first time that I could look at the Arabic language with real pride. The contrast with the poor quality of Arabic typefaces at that time (1998) propelled me towards a career in Arabic type design."
After completing her undergraduate studies at MSFEA, Nadine went on to secure a MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading, UK, a PhD from Leiden University, The Netherlands, and a Master of Studies in International Relations from Cambridge University.
Nadine's work is displayed and featured in many places across the world including in the 5th edition of Megg's History of Graphic Design and in the 4th edition of First Choice which highlights the work of the 250 top global designers practicing today. “It's so heartwarming!" Nadine commented on these achievements with so much joy. “Success can be isolating, especially if you're a woman, so the support of the community and knowing that I am able to make a difference gives me strength and comfort."
In 2012, she was selected by Fast Company for its 100 Most Creative People in Business. “I was the first type designer to make it onto that list!" said Nadine about the Fast Company listing. “But I also cherish my two awards from AUB, the Dean's Creative Achievement Award for my final year project, and the Distinguished Alumni one in 2013. AUB is where this lifelong journey started, and my happy place in Lebanon. I even named my typeface Janna after it, because of what it represented to me."
In 2017, Nadine was selected by Creative Review to their Creative Leaders 50. In 2021, Nadine served on the board of Type Directors Club in New York. When asked where she draws inspiration and motivation from, Nadine said, “I look outside the window for inspiration. I design for the future I wish us to have, for a vision of an Arab world that is secular, progressive, and free. That we can move beyond the religious differences that have torn our country to pieces during the war, trampled over them in the decades that followed, then set them on fire in the past three years."
Nadine's contribution to the typography field is impressive, especially in the Arabic typography. “Typography gives voice to the written word and is part of our identity as communities and nations." Nadine eloquently explained, “when it comes to Arabic type, we still have a world of expression left to discover because there are still too few typefaces." Her PhD research actually focuses on legibility and eye movement while reading Arabic. There is very little scientific research on the topic and “This is still true today, 10 years after I defended my thesis!"
Towards the end of our conversation, Nadine shared her gratitude and appreciation to MSFEA's contribution to her success. “The Arabic typography course that MSFEA provided changed my life and set me on the career path I'm on. I wasn't so good in my Graphic Design courses, and had no mental schema of what good design is. Attending MSFEA courses inspired me to research, to investigate, and to draw. Also, the Jaffet library has an amazing collection of calligraphy books that I could not afford, so having access to that was crucial."
She then attributed her success to her mentor, Dr. Samir Sayegh, who instilled in her a life lesson that she will take with her forever, “spark your intellectual curiosity to excel in your field of study and make use of the support and tools to do so."
We cannot begin to express how proud we are to see our alumni making good use of what AUB and MSFEA have offered them and forging a career that leaves an impact on the world. Thank you Dr. Nadine Chahine and we hope your future holds even more successful endeavors!