Publishers on design and visual culture of the Middle East and North Africa

Imprimerie Catholique 1848–2000, The Catholic Press of Beirut: A Printing & Design Legacy in the Arab East explores the history of this remarkable independent press through its editorial and design production from the late nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth century. The book delves into the mission of the original Press and its transformation over its 150 years of existence, from a humble press in the service of the Jesuit Mission in Beirut into one of Lebanon’s most distinguished printing enterprises. It charts the Press’s contribution to raising the standards of typographic and graphic design in Lebanon.

The Imprimerie Catholique nurtured cultural development by educating and delivering a new generation of thinkers that became the founding fathers of the new independent Lebanese Republic. It engaged in projects that helped establish a modern and unique Lebanese cultural and visual identity. On the level of visual design—especially typography—the Press instigated renewal and raised the standards in book design and production, leading to a diversity in book design conventions, and the invention of new styles and techniques for typesetting Arabic text in a legible and aesthetically pleasing manner. Their designs were characterized and often inspired by classical calligraphic and Arabic manuscript compositional conventions, and in later years they merged this visual heritage with contemporary design traits.

The Imprimerie Catholique remained operational as a printing press until the end of the twentieth century, being renewed and adapting to technological developments as well as new design trends. By its sheer longevity and the diversity of its printed production (from academic books to cultural journals, cultural publications, stamps, and value papers), it left a lasting and distinctive mark on Lebanese visual culture and graphic design practice.

Authors :

Huda Smitshuijzen-AbiFarès and John Kortbawi

Publisher :

Khatt Books, Amsterdam 2023



Edition :

442 p, illustr, colour, 21 x 28 cm, Hardcover, English

Price :