Type Challenge

The Trip In Type Challenge


Originally published on Medium on 20 July, 2017.

This is the last time we begin at the beginning, but we won’t travel as far back as Charles Darwin. Merely 20 years, when I was an unfettered child who was growing up around books that she didn’t understand. Books about Indian Penal Code, Hindi Literature, and Indian Mythology. But she did run off to her friends’ house to raid the library and read as many comics as she could.

Obviously, that runner was yours truly. Initially, I just flipped through the pages of Tintin, Archies, and Tinkle. But that never compromised the storytelling, and development of expression with each page. The credit goes to the simple typography I came across. Even today, starting from classics like Bronte to Marvel comics, typography helps me align myself with the personality and the emotion of the publication.

And then comes college. A bubble. Well, design school is more of a black hole. You learn new things and innovate like never before, and your involvement just increases with each step. Over time you develop emotions for experiences, people, and ideas. And when I look back at my experience, I can say that I developed stronger feelings for typography and colour theory than I ever had for anything in life. This took some guts to accept, but these insignificant details defined the depth of decision making to me and created a persona for everything I laid eyes on. Insignificant to more than 90% of the population, still more humane to me than any other tool. Just like other humans, I’ve been running away from some typefaces, been loyal to a few, and loved a couple. Where Bodoni stirred the martini, Gotham liked it shaken.

Psst. If you’re a Graphic Designer, I think you’ll understand those butterflies in the stomach when you look at that one typeface that’s just. Meant to be.

Type and Personality
The feelings got stronger with time, but they only unraveled in college because the obsession was hidden deep under the layers of my skin. It grew with each comic, storybook, zine, and novel I interacted with for as long as I remember. I developed a passionate perspective towards typography much earlier. By now you must be thinking that I’m a typographer. However, I’m just a plain and simple, behind the scenes information designer. *And to be honest, I love to experiment with type even though I haven’t developed a whole family set.* But. Everyone who loves science, doesn’t become a scientist and that’s what I tell myself every time I feel the typographer void. With time I realised that typefaces are essential pieces of information. What can’t be read, can be seen.

Along with the blog post about Neutral typeface in 2014, typotheque released a video describing how typefaces express various emotions and can scream for attention. And that’s quite true. Every typeface has a persona. A feeling that you experience, but don’t really trace it back to the typeface. They can range from narcissism to quintessence, but one can pair the right typeface to compliment the nature of information and create new meanings. And when I think about typefaces as a piece of information, I think about the same. As a designer, whenever I pick a type for my projects I make sure they communicate the root information. Yes, I judge typefaces. Way too much, and way too often. You’ll see me glancing and hoarding typefaces in my spare time. But I’m bad at names, so no quizzing.

Moving on.

The type classification itself defines the characteristics of the typefaces, which in turn helps us in pairing the type with not just other typefaces but with the information as well. As designers sometimes we know which typeface fits instantly, and sometimes three of you will have to sit in the conference room and rake your brains. If you’ve read the preceding articles, which I hope you did, you’d know how obsessive we were with Form and Colour attributes. So, when it came to typography, we couldn’t just rush into a decision. Because, as Elvis said, only fools rush in.

Marriage or Friendship
Just looking at the type and its characteristics would do no good. Because it’s all about relationships and their harmony. Where our logo form had to be stable yet energetic, our typeface had to communicate our bold approach. We wanted to use the logotype typeface as our primary type as well, and there was our twist in the tale.

Firstly, we went back to the foundation. We investigated Trip In’s persona, more deeply than before. I still remember sitting in our conference room and thinking if Trip In is more Kevin Spacey or Elon Musk. To be honest, I find both stable and powerful. Attributes that can be defined by squares and triangles respectively, in character design. We needed a form to be dynamic, yet stable, to form a union with the logo form.

Khand is a family of compact mono-linear fonts with very open counter forms. Its letterforms are dynamic, and everything is designed according to a modular system. All of its shapes bear a strong commonality to one another, but the typeface strikes a good balancing act and avoids too much repetitiveness.

Khand, Google Fonts

After looking at the characteristics we realised that Khand compliments the logo form, and defines the edgy and welcoming nature. Khand in true sense helped us define the root information about the company. It’s sleek. Dynamic. And definitely stable. To increase the homogeneity of the logo form and type, we introduced angular cuts to indicate the same movement as the logo. As a result, the form, colour and dynamic logotype worked as a union. The next step was to define the friendship between the primary and secondary typefaces and everyone knows how tough finding true friends can be. Think, I’ll be there for you.

We initially looked at Lato as the companion and worked with it for months. After efforts of making it work in every space, we realised that the typefaces didn’t belong together. Thus began the hunt, but this time we made sure that the secondary typeface needs to be bilingual as well. We started looking at typefaces by the same foundry, and found a worthy contender as Hind.

Hind is an Open Source typeface supporting the Devanagari and Latin scripts. Developed explicitly for use in User Interface design, the Hind font family includes five styles. Hind’s letterforms have a humanist-style construction, which is paired with seemingly mono-linear strokes. Most of these strokes have flat endings: they either terminate with a horizontal or a vertical shear, rather than on a diagonal. This helps create clear-cut counter forms between the characters.

Hind, Google Fonts

Frankly, Hind is a recent addition to the family. But it just fits. Both the typefaces together establish a feeling of reliability and boldness through their balanced form, and the humanist style accentuates the welcoming feature. And now, let’s just stare at the specimen. It’ll tell you every other reason we picked these two beauties for.