Typefaces give form to the alphabet. They function as carriers of information, selected and circulated through labour, capital and culture. We encounter letterforms daily, but most of the time we are oblivious to their origins or craft. While typefaces have personas and create atmosphere, their characteristics seldom point back to their place of origin or their maker.
Yet it is through use that typefaces become meaningful to people – and not just to designers. When a typeface is used intensively within a community of practice, over time it can become a signal for that community’s values. That typeface might say things about who belongs to that community and what they represent.
With a lack of digital typefaces to choose from, and motivated to create a typeface that local designers could use to communicate with rather than reaching for foreign ones, typeface designer Kris Sowersby began investigating a typeface that would be from New Zealand. It was first released in 2007 and was named National.
For Objectspace’s second Ockham lecture for 2018, acclaimed designer Kris Sowersby will discuss the crafting of National and National 2. Exploring his original research of gothic and early grotesque typefaces through to his 2017 overhaul and expansion of the National family.
Typeface designer Kris Sowersby founded Klim Type Foundry (Klim) in 2005. He studied at Whanganui School of Design and worked briefly as a graphic designer before starting Klim. Since releasing his first retail typeface, Feijoa, in 2005, Kris has received numerous awards and accolades, including: a Certificate of Excellence from the New York Type Directors Club for his second typeface, National, in 2007; being named an ADC Young Gun in 2010; being accepted as a member of the prestigious Alliance Graphique Internationale (the second New Zealander to do so) in 2013; and receiving the John Britten Black Pin in 2015, the highest award given by the Designers Institute of New Zealand. Kris has designed custom fonts for such clients as The Financial Times, PayPal and National Geographic.
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