Font Designer – Akira Kobayashi

Akira Kobayashi

Interview with Akira Kobayashi

What is your favorite use of Akko to date?
I loved it immediately when I saw the information panels at the Hall of Human Life exhibition in the Museum of Science, Boston. I was very happy to hear that the graphic designer at the Museum wanted to make the exhibition “approachable rather than overwhelming” to visitors, and that it was one of the reasons why they chose Akko (see the following pictures).

Another example is the customized version of Akko used for the Penny supermarket here in Germany. They are using it not only for large ads, but also for texts in very small sizes, such as serving instructions and nutritional information on food packages. This proves that Akko also works well in 8-point size or even smaller (see the following pictures).

What is your favorite character in the typeface?
The lowercase “a”. It is one of the most characteristic letters in the typeface. Its uncomplicated structure and ample inner counters help to create a warm and approachable atmosphere. I designed the letterform to make it look nice and friendly but not too fancy or comical. A friend of mine who is a book designer once told me that Akko’s “a” looks timeless.

Which was the most difficult to draw?
Again, the lowercase “a”. I had to redraw it over and over until the letterform looked balanced enough. When I design a typeface, however, I put more emphasis on designing words­­ rather than letters themselves. Seeking the best black-and-white balance between letters to keep a good rhythm is a challenging but important part of the design process.

What is the challenge when designing a condensed typeface?
The most difficult part was keeping counters open when the width of the letters is extremely narrow. When you compare Akko with other popular sans like Helvetica and Frutiger, you will notice that the normal (non-condensed) Akko is already about 10 per cent narrower than them. Creating condensed versions of this “semi-condensed” family was a bit of a challenge.

Do you have any recommendations on how to use Akko and Akko Condensed?
Akko can be your choice of font when you are looking for a sans that is space saving and looks fresh and friendly. Please remember that it also works well in small sizes.

The Know How section offers detailed background knowledge to deal with all enquiries about the use of fonts.

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