Nkemdiche Why We Do Not Grow Beards — is classic Igbo folklore that takes place in an otherworldly time when women grew beards. 
It is a genesis story of African women and their knack for elaborate hairdos that we have come to admire and love them for today.
Obiora Nwazota assembled a global team to collaborate in producing this book. Span was brought in to design the book’s cover and the interior pages featuring the work of Parisian illustrator, Lucie Van der Elst.
Span designed the cover that celebrates our protagonist Nkemdiche and her beautiful beard. By setting the illustration of Nkemdiche to break from the color-blocks we create a sense of dimension around the decorated beard — this is further emphasized by the book’s title dropping behind the beard.
Nkemdiche, an Igbo term that translates to ‘mine is different’, is set in Minérale (a shapely typeface) that reflects the unique and creative qualities Nkemdiche was known for in her beard styling. The body of the book is set in the typeface Kigelia from JamraPatel. Kigelia is the first-ever system of fonts designed to coordinate in character the most prominent writing systems in Africa. Begun in 2014, this typeface was designed by Mark Jamra and Neil Patel from in-depth research and consultation with script and language experts, both inside and outside the respective language communities that use these scripts.
This is the first book to be published by Ọkpara House. Through Art and design objects, prints, and various media, Ọkpara House’s mission is to harness the power of good design, dialogue, and academic research as powerful agents to stimulate, reactive, elevate, and reimagine Igbo culture. Through this, they are reclaiming and asserting the relevance of Igbo culture on contemporary lifestyles within and beyond the Igbo community.
Studio
Span
Clients
Ọkpara House
Team
Obiora Nwazota — Author
Lucie Van der Elst — Illustration
Nick Adam — Design Direction, Design
Bud Rodecker — Design Direction, Design
Jelgavas Tipogrāfija — Printing
Valdis Kaulins Imagine — Product Photography
Awards and Recognition
AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers
AIGA Eye on Design
Print Magazine, The Daily Heller

Permanent Collections
AIGA Design Archives
Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University’s Butler Library
Book spine’s for Nkemdiche arranged in the form of the letter ‘N’.
Font and back covers for Nkemdiche stacked on top of a book spread featuring the end sheets.
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