Magazine About Design and Visual Culture in the Gobal South
Safar is an annual bilingual design and visual culture magazine published in Beirut, Lebanon. The name Safar is Arabic for “journey” and refers to the notion of communication, especially across disciplinary, cultural, and linguistic boundaries. Safar was launched to address the lack of critical writing on design in the Global South, and aims to recognize designers as active participants in cultural production.
From a focus on visual design, the magazines’ themes revolve around big, difficult stories of politics and social justice, with a particular focus on Lebanon and the Arab world in general. Because design is culture, and culture is what reflects and moves society forward. It’s also about moving the conversation about design and visual culture away from a fixation on the global north.
Where do you get your motivation for the magazine?
I think we’re motivated to make the magazine because, quite simply, we get really excited about regional graphic design, both past and present, and we want a space to share, document, read, and write about it. We see publishing Safar as a way to assert that design and visual culture are significant and powerful cultural, and even political, players. They affect—and have historically affected—very real change. We are also motivated to publish Safar because we, as a team, enjoy collaborating with different thinkers, writers, and designers—each new issue is a chance to engage with new thinkers and their ideas.
How do you find the topics for it?
Often it’s very spontaneous. Someone thinks up an idea in the middle of the night and it just clicks. Our entire design team meets regularly to propose and consider different theme and article possibilities, different directions, and formats for those articles. It’s a collaborative and exploratory studio project.
Is the role of women particularly important to you, and if so, why?
The roles of women, trans, and non-binary people are particularly important. Beyond gender, we strive to publish work by people and communities who have not had the same opportunities to write, publish, and speak. It’s definitely a priority for us to elevate and create space for historically marginalized and silenced voices.