Brief: Design a cookbook of recipes created by Syrian refugees.
We were approached to design a cookbook filled with incredible recipes from Syrians who had sought refuge in Lancashire; ‘A Taste of Home’.
This project was filled with so much passion by everyone involved, and we wanted to make sure that the stories of the refugees were told honestly and each recipe was done justice through the design, illustration and photography.
The illustrations were hand-drawn and painted, just as the recipes were hand-created.
The book is split into regions – each one filled with a story of the area, and a little bit about some of the refugees from each region, and their recipes.
These are all brought to life through colour, typography, illustrations and photography. Most illustrations are created using pen and watercolour; like the recipes, these are created by hand – each one is a work of art, and has a roughness and human feel to it. All regions have a main colour which runs throughout its section. At the beginning and end of the book, these colours come together to show Syria as a whole. The dedicated colours are on the main recipe text pages, and cleverly used through the styling of the photography so it does not become overpowering, but rather stronger.
For the body, we chose a typeface that was easy to read, and for the quotes we chose a typeface that was striking and again, had great legibility. For the main titles, we wanted something that would reflect the culture and perhaps feel a little foreign at first; the beautiful script has an essence of Arabic style in the heavy strokes onto each new letter. Although some words may require a closer look, it captures the balance between the Arabic that these recipes were originally written in, and the British language it has been converted to. It is the perfect reflection of those individuals who have sought refuge in the UK and are shedding positivity here through their cooking.
Some of the titles are written in their Syrian names, and have the pronunciation underneath. This helps people of all ages further connect and learn new culture whilst cooking delicious food.
We worked with an incredible team of women who, with a great selection of props, brought each photo to life in the regional colour scheme.
We chose to shoot the food overhead (in most of the shots as some had to be done on an angle, due to the nature of the food), which complimented the overall look and the illustrations perfectly. The Syrian foods within the book are something of an art, and some (such as Maklouba) are like nothing we had ever seen before; we wanted to make sure the photography captured these beautiful foods in the light they deserved.
Each individual photograph was thoroughly discussed, making sure the food was presented as it would be for the writer of that recipe. We also wanted to make it clear to the reader, who may have never heard of the food before, the clear intention of how the food should look when completed. For example, on foods where the process may not be so clear on completion, we would show the inside, or making of the food. As well as this, we accompanied the food with side dishes to offer the reader ideas of how it could be served whilst following and learning from the Syrian culture.
Colours and Illustration
The colours chosen for each region are representative of something within it. For example; in Daraa there are the most picturesque green spaces; and Aleppo is known for its gold manufacturing, as well as the natural golden-yellow hue that was once seen in the street floors and buildings. Alongside photography pages of the places, this gives a feel of what Syria used to be like, and the vibrant place that was once home to these refugees.
“The artistic vision for this project really began. Your kindness towards us made us feel comfortable sharing our dream with you and your hard work has helped us to show our Syrian home in such a positive light.”
— Malak Al Betare & Balqis Faroukh, Main Authors ‘A Taste of Home’.