Lettering Large: Expo 2020 Dubai | American University of Sharjah

Introducing Lettering Large–a major mural collaboration between the US Mission to the UAE and American University of Sharjah at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The giant 125 square-meter mural weighs approximately 500 kilograms and was created by established designers from the UAE and USA as a celebration of the themes of diversity, unity, coexistence, tolerance and limitless opportunities shared by the UAE and USA.  

It combines both Arabic and English typography, featuring the phrase “You and I, seek to forge a limitless universe” penned by celebrated Emirati author and AUS alumna Eman Al Yousuf. The lenticular design and modular typographies were contributed by US graphic designer Jarett Fuller and UAE designer Nada AlYafei, a graduate of AUS.

The mural opening was officiated by US Consul General Meghan Gregonis, USA Pavilion Commissioner General Robert Clark, AUS Chancellor Dr. Susan Mumm and Dr. Varkki Pallathucheril, Dean of the AUS College of Architecture, Art and Design on October 14, 2021.

Visitors can view the mural at Expo’s Opportunity District, opposite the Egypt pavilion, until March 31, 2022.

Meet the Creators

DESIGNERS

EMAN ALYOUSEF | AUTHOR, UAE
Emirati writer Eman AlYousef has published three novels—The Window Which Saw; Guard the Sun; and The Resurrection of Others—along with three short stories, including A Bird in a Fish Tank and Many Faces of a Man. Her celebrated novel Guard of the Sun won the 2016 Emirates Novel Award and has been translated into seven languages. As the first Emirati woman to have attended the prestigious Program of International Writers at the University of Iowa, Eman is also a regular columnist in UAE print media and the writer of the feminist short film Ghafa.

NADA AL YAFEI | GRAPHIC DESIGNER, UAE
Nada AlYafei obtained her Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication from the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University of Sharjah. Her professional experience includes working as a designer for the United Arab Emirates government, and non-profit arts entities. She currently maintains a freelance practice, focusing primarily on branding projects. A selection of her work can be viewed at www.nada.ink.

JARRETT FULLER | GRAPHIC DESIGNER, USA
Jarrett Fuller is director of the multidisciplinary design and editorial studio twenty-six. He hosts the podcast "Scratching the Surface" and is a contributing editor at AIGA Eye On Design. As an educator, Jarrett has taught at Pratt Institute, The New School Parsons School of Design, University of the Arts, and Rutgers University. He has previously worked as a designer at Facebook, Warby Parker and The Whitney Museum of American Art, and holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Kutztown University and MFA in Graphic Design and Critical Studies from Maryland Institute College of Art.

 

CO-DESIGNERS / COORDINATORS

HALA AL-ANI | GRAPHIC DESIGNER / ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Hala Al-Ani graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication from AUS, going on to graduate studies in graphic design and iconic research at the University of Illinois Chicago and the Basel School of Design. She is the co-founder of Möbius Design Studio in Dubai and is currently Assistant Professor in Visual Communication at American University of Sharjah.

BISHOY GIRGIS | ARCHITECT
Bishoy Girgis is an architect, designer and maker based in the UAE. He works as the Material Fabrication Specialist at the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University of Sharjah. Most recently he collaborated on a public seating project called Desert Ribbons, which was featured in Dubai Design Week in November 2020.

RIEM IBRAHIM | GRAPHIC DESIGNER / ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Riem Ibrahim is currently Assistant Professor of Visual Communication at American University of Sharjah and co-founder of Dubai-based Mobius Studio. Riem graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Design from American University of Sharjah, and has a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from University of Illinois Chicago and a Master of Arts in Iconic Research from Basel School of Design. 

MARIAN MISIAK | GRAPHIC DESIGNER
A type designer and researcher, Marian Misiak is also a co-author of Paneuropa, Kometa, Hel, a book about the history of Polish typography. Working mostly for Polish cultural institutions, he designed a new visual identity for the National Museum of Wroclaw and U'jazdowski Centre for Contemporary Art, and is co-author of the new Warsaw Public Transport logo. Marian's interest in experimental type design has seen him develop his own type foundry, threedotstype.com.



STUDENT CONTRIBUTORS

AUS students of visual communication and multimedia design Leen AlBaz, Rawan AlAdl, Milania Philip and Lama Kadri also contributed to the project. Working under the mentorship of the CAAD team, these students were responsible for conceiving the visual identity of Lettering Large and its application, including a social media campaign and marketing video. This invaluable experience allowed them to gain a deeper working understanding of the professional world beyond academia, and to hone the skills needed to succeed in their fields of expertise.

The Making of a Mural: Design Process

What started as a series of sketches and formulae on a page has become a major public art piece for a global audience at Expo 2020.

Taking a two-dimensional text and successfully translating it into a three-dimensional viewing experience, Lettering Large serves to unite both English and Arabic audiences. 

The text provided by Emirati author Eman Al Yousef­, a chemical engineering graduate from AUS­, speaks to the aspirational views of both the UAE and USA for a future that pushes beyond the limits of our imagination. The mural reads:

“YOU AND I, SEEK TO FORGE A LIMITLESS UNIVERSE”

أن نسعى، أنت وأنا، لصياغة كونٍ بلا حدود

The design team worked together to create a lenticular effect that provides a dynamic viewing experience–the artwork changes as the viewer moves across until they can fully read the statement clearly and simultaneously in both languages.

 

The Making of a Mural: Fabrication

Taking a total of 60 hours, the fabrication and construction process was completed locally in the StructurFlex Middle East Contractors factory in Al Dhaid, Sharjah.

The final 125-square meter mural weighs a total of 500 kilograms and comprises a series of 25 locally sourced galvanized iron sheets, each weighing 20 kilograms, hinging on a supporting frame.

 

The Making of a Mural: Installation

The video below documents the installation of Lettering Large at the Opportunity District at Expo 2020 Dubai ahead of the official opening.

 

Beyond Expo

The legacy of Lettering Large will extend beyond Expo 2020 Dubai. The designers intend for the mural to be dismantled and then divided into seven separate sections as stand-alone murals for each of the seven emirates of the UAE, becoming public monuments to be enjoyed by UAE audiences for years to come.

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