Presentation: JoAnn DeLuna

El Hema Koopavond 7

First Arabic chocolate letter

2 aug 2007

Mediamatic unveiled the first Arabic chocolate letter—possibly ever made—at the 7th weekly meeting for the upcoming El HEMA exhibition. The letter, created by Bernardo Gaeiras, signified only one of the many progressions discussed for the exhibit which was set to open on August 24.


First Arabic Chocolate Letter - El Koopavond 7 Bernardo Gaeiras created the first mold for the chocolate letter haa'. This shape is only one of 19 different Arab shapes in the 29 letter Arabic alphabet. The letters change according to the placement of the dots. Michel Langendijk

Chocolate Letters

The idea directly coincides with the organizers’ concept of creating an Arabic version of the Netherlands’ Hema chain stores to publicize the release of five new Arabic fonts. By creating products with Arab inspired culture, El HEMA organizers hope to expose locals to Arab culture through script design. The proposal to create chocolate Arab letters was inspired by the traditional chocolate letters available at Hema stores during Christmas time. “Kids usually receive their initials for Christmas,” Gaeiras said.


Presentation about standardising El HEMA tags - El HEMA koopavond 7 Khajag explains the process towards standardizing El HEMA tags and labels. He showed examples of how the new Arabic - Roman typefaces work together. Michel Langendijk


The plan is to produce molds for all 19 shapes of the 29-letter Arab alphabet. Willem Velthoven, Mediamatic, said a chocolate company has already shown interest in producing the letters. However, with the exhibit less than 20 days away, it would be quite costly and time consuming to make molds for all 19 letters, Baeiras said. It took him one and a half days to create one mold with a kit that cost about 50 euros. Negotiations are still being made.

Similarly, measures are also being taken to produce a do-it-yourself stamp kit designed by graphic design intern Maria Hakim.


Arabisch Voedsel - El Hema koopavond 7 Saba Habte, from Kilimanjaro restaurant presented Sudanese food for everyone to sample. She explained that Sudanese women cook practically the whole day as they cook one meal and prepar for the next. Some of the dishes included salads and eggplant. Michel Langendijk

Met: Saba Habta

Design Updates

The meeting further demonstrated how up-to-speed the resourceful and talented five Arab intern designers responsible for designing El HEMA products can be.

“Hema has a new logo, so we have to do the same,” graphic design intern Wael Morcos said as he introduced a second version of El HEMA logos.

Intern Khajag Apelian, responsible for standardizing the price tags and labels for the exhibit’s products, said Hema still uses the old logo for about 90 percent of its products, but is gradually integrating their new logo design in their stores.


Bernardo made the first Arabic Chocolate Letter - Bernardo Gaeiras made a sylicon mould for the letter haa'. During the meeting, Gaeiras took the chocolate letter out of the mould for the first time and presented the first arabic chocolate letter. Michel Langendijk

“This is the first time in my life that I can see legible Arabic tags,” Huda Smitshuijzen Abifares, El HEMA Coordinator, said of the new designs. “It’s very convincing how quick you guys reengineered the designs.”

Designer Abrar Al-Musallam and Raya Tueny also updated attendees on their latest apparel creations, which were originally displayed on the 9:30 p.m. Dutch news the night before.

“Your breasts will look beautiful with potatoes and olives” and “You’re all butter, where can I start,” will be some of the lines that will be printed in Arabic on the trendy t-shirts designed by Al-Musallam. The pick up lines were taken from Kuwait, Morroco, Lebanon and Egypt. “It may sound a little lame, but in Arabic it’s poetic and it rhymes,” Al-Musallam said.


El HEMA Koopavond 7 - El Hema Koopavond A designer from Studiomeiboom studio presented a lamp called The Enlightenment, created by Hans Meiboom. This lamp is shaped like a bible/koran/thora and lights up. More information can be found here. Michel Langendijk

Velthoven also disclosed the upcoming availability of a fabrication laboratory, which will allow Mediamatic staff and exhibit-goers to make two and three dimensional designs on a small scale, for example computerized stencils, with professional assistance. The Fablab will be available at every Mediamatic exhibit from now on, he said.

“People can come in and get support for producing prototypes for their ideas.”

New Developments

As with every Thursday meeting, the night would not have been complete without new people, inspirations, collaborations and exotic foods.

Movie maker Nienke Brokke screened her short animated film Tegelvertellingen, inspired by a fusion of Dutch and Arab cultures, as well as traditional fairy tales. Brokke said she wanted to play with the concept of happy endings and “the superstitions we have with the Arab world.” The cartoon, animated in a Delft blue motif, displayed a “typical” Dutch man infatuated with a crying woman trapped in a windmill. After he rescues her, and where a traditional fairy tale would normally end, the film continues to show the man locking the woman in yet another windmill with other women.


Raya Tueny presenting the Cut Up Djeballah - El Hema Koopavond 7 Raya introducing her new product called Cut up Djellaba during one of the El HEMA " Koopavonden" 2007. The El HEMA "Koopavonden" were public research meetings organized by Mediamatic. Here artists, designers and other specialists could discuss and present their ideas about a Arabic HEMA. The Cut up Djellaba turned out to be one of the most requested EL HEMA products that sold out in the first week. Raya Tueny presented her project of the Cut Up Djellaba kit. The kit will include a Djellaba… Michel Langendijk

Met: Raya Tueny

“We point fingers, yet we’re doing things we accuse other cultures of doing—I hate that.”

After attending her first Thursday meeting last week, henna-tattoo artist Etty Elbaz-Griffioen returned with newly found inspiration. She presented the organizers with ideas for redesigning De Ruijter’s hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles for bread) with a very sensual henna touch.

“[Hagelslag] is very Dutch. What will be different is the package with Arabic symbols.”

Elbaz-Griffioen also suggested a new set of colors for paint, such as Henna Red, Mint Green and Blue Eye.


Presenting the El HEMA interior signs - El Hema koopavond 7 Graphic design intern Wael Mocros explained the metamorphosis of a contemporary Hema into El HEMA, the Arabic version of the store. He further explained the necessity to create a second El HEMA logo, to coincide with the changes taking place in the real Hema. For more detailed information check Michel Langendijk

Although most of the organizers, workers and volunteers agree they now have a clearer idea of where the project is heading and what their roles are compared to last week, others admit there is still more that can be done. Soad Bouchertouf, a clothing advisor for the exhibiton, said more foreigners involved in the project and actually going to the Arab countries “to taste” would help develop the exhibit more.

“More time would also help. It’s still developing but it’s got a lot of potential.”


Presenting Stamps - El Hema koopavond 7 Graphic design intern Maria Hakim designed a Do-it-Yourself Stamp kit so individuals can create their own patterns, write names and simply experiment with the new Arabic typefaces. More info on Michel Langendijk


Saba Habte presenting Sudanese food - Presenting Sudanese food at El Hema koopavond 7 Saba Habte is the owner of the restaurant Kilimanjaro and she presented Sudanese food Saba Habte is the owner of Kilimanjaro restaurant. At the meeting she presented Sudanese food. Michel Langendijk

Met: Saba Habta

Hagelslag henna ontwerpen - Concept and photo by Etty Elbaz-Griffioen Henna tattoo artist Etty Elbaz-Griffioen re-designed De Ruijter’s hagelslag packages with Arab influences. Hagelslag is a typical Dutch topping for breakfast bread similar to chocolate sprinkles. packagesshowed us her ideas for an nice henna El HEMA product. She also shared her ideas for a line of El HEMA paints with names like Mint Green, Black Coffee, Henna Red, Blue Eye and Cous Cous White. Etty Elbaz Griffioen


Presentatie door Nienke Brokke - El Hema Koopavond 7 Nienke showed a pilot of 'tegelvertellingen', an animation for TV Nienke showed a pilot of 'tegelvertellingen', an animation for TV. Every 'Tilestory' starts within a wall of Delftsblue tiles, but first these tiles will stir in an Arabic dance... Michel Langendijk


T-shirt with Arabic Pick-Up line - Egyptian pickup line. Translation: " You who's sitting next to me real tight, get tighter and I'll be okay." Abrar El-Musallam presented a series of t-shirts with Arab pick-up lines from Kuwait, Morroco, Lebanon and Egypt. Above is a possible design for an Egyptian line that translates to, "You who's sitting next to me real tight, get tighter and I'll be okay." For more designs check this out.


Een boterham met Hamsa Hagelslag - Concept and photo by Etty Elbaz-Griffioen Another design for De Ruijter’s hagelslag packages created by henna tattoo artist Etty Elbaz-Griffioen. Etty Elbaz Griffioen