Typefaces collection

How did you get involved with typeface design? What led you to this practice?
I grew up in a bilingual family in Rio, Brazil, and was very much influenced by my mother who was a linguist. It’s pretty clear to me that my taste for typography comes first and foremost from my love for languages. Later on I studied design and visual communication at university. It was there that I discovered typography as the graphic expression of language.

I decided to move to Paris in 2008 to continue my studies at the ENSCI - Les Ateliers as part of a master’s program in creation and contemporary technologies. My master’s project dealt with augmented reading, which allowed me to collaborate with various Service Design startups and to specialize in reading interfaces. It was while working with the layout of digital text that I was struck by a desire to acquire a deeper knowledge of typography and, more specifically, type design for the screen.

This interest led me to begin a typeface design project as part of the Typography and Language post graduate program in the Esad of Amiens that I concluded in 2015 with the beginnings of Thelo, a type family that explores the idea of optical sizes for the screen.
Since finishing the post graduate course I have continued my work in Service Design for businesses while simultaneously working on my personal projects around typography. I consider them to be two passionate and complementary approaches to design.

What influences you? Are there typeface designers whose work you appreciate in particular?
I have noticed that I am often visually attracted to typefaces created by Dutch designers. I can’t really put my finger on exactly why, but I believe that there is something a little offbeat, a little unconventional and at the same time very effective in the Dutch aesthetic that appeals to me. For example it was love at first sight when I discovered the work of Bram de Does, and I was lucky enough to be able to consult the original drawings for his Lexicon in the archives of the University of Amsterdam during a study trip.

I have also been heavily influenced by the work of Matthew Carter, and in particular by his approach to typeface design for screens and the way that he integrates the different constraints of the screen display into his drawings. I had the opportunity to meet him when he participated in the Rencontres Internationales de Lure in 2018 and I really learned a lot from my contact with this very inspiring and accessible person.

In your opinion, what is the point of creating a new typeface when so many already exist?
This is a question that I often ask myself. I tend to answer that it is like any form of creation. What is the point of writing a new novel or a new song? For me the possibilities for exploration in the artistic domain are truly infinite.

Is it really possible to create something new in the field of typeface design?
We have all been marked by the legacy of the great designers who sought to push back the boundaries of letterforms. Beyond historical influences, the production constraints and contexts of use are constantly changing. The way that each type designer assimilates their influences and projects themselves into an original context leads to the emergence of new issues and new research.

How do you begin work on a new typeface? Do you have a particular process?
As with every other design project, before starting I need to appropriate the context and understand the issues involved. I seek to develop formal responses that are anchored in the associated constraints. Then, little by little I refine my sketches through a process of iteration, which consists of working simultaneously on an individual point of view of the letterform and within the overall nature of the typeface. I particularly like this work of experimentation in which one must work on a level of detail while not losing sight of its impact within the type color, doing this until a balance, an equilibrium, a satisfying response is obtained.

What is your relationship with the history of typography? What is your relationship with technology?
They are both intimately linked. In my historical references I have often sought to understand the technical context of typeface design and this is a great source of inspiration to me. But though my Service Designer side feels comfortable with the exercise of responding to a particular need, I also have another more instinctive side that feeds off the formal and cultural aspects of the history of typography, not focusing too much on technique. To be honest, this relationship can be somewhat conflictual: moving forward while holding on to what has been left behind, having a technical and historical framework while simultaneously trying to move beyond it. For me this is the essential mission of a designer, irrespective of the field in which they work.

Why have you chosen to distribute your characters and typefaces with 205TF?
I like the idea of being represented by a French foundry, as I learned everything that I know about type design in France and from French teachers. I also identify with the fact that 205TF is a business that operates on a human scale and one that represents independent designers. Ultimately the determining factor in my decision was the quality of the work of the range of designers that makes up the 205TF catalogue.

Do you think that typography can save the world?
I think that typography can be quite powerful in the manner in which it conditions the reader and thus plays a key role in the transmission of messages, in the learning process and in the various aspects of this close connection that written language has with humanity. However it is doubtlessly through articulation with other disciplines that typography can provide its greatest contribution to the world.

Do you teach? If so, where, and why does this role of transmission seem important to you?
For the last two years I have occasionally taught in the Gobelins, working with Design et Management de l’Innovation Interactive master students in workshops and on specific subjects related to Service Design. I have also begun to work with students who are writing their dissertations and also participate in teaching panels to whom the students present their work.
It is truly rewarding to be able to place one’s experience in the service of young people who are in the process of defining themselves as future designers. In reality transmission is a two way street. For my part I find it highly stimulating to be in contact with them and to explore the subjects that drive them in their work.

What type design project are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a book of typographic illustrations that compare French and Portuguese expressions. It will be the second publication in the collection that I began in 2019 with Loufoquerie, in collaboration with Cássia D’Elia.
For me this project is a way of creating a dialogue between my passions for typography, Graphic Design and languages.

by Tassiana Nuñez Costa