Studied at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo, and later followed this up with a calligraphy course at the London College of Printing. Freelance type designer since 1997.
April 1983–March 1989
Sha-ken Co. Ltd, Japan Typeface design department
December 1990–June 1993
Jiyu-kobo Ltd, Japan
September 1993–March 1997
TypeBank Co. Ltd, Japan
March 1997–April 2001
Freelance type designer
April 1998–April 2001
Lettering-course teacher at Nihon Designer Gakuin (polytechnic) in Tokyo, Japan
October 2000–April 2001
Part-time curator in the printing workshop of Printing Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Since May 2001
Type Director at Linotype GmbH
In the 1998 U&lc magazine type design competition:
for Clifford ("Best of Category and Best of Show" categories);
In Kyrillitsa’99 competition:
for ITC Japanese Garden
In Linotype’s 3rd International Digital Type Design Contest in 2000:
for Conrad (1st prize, text category)
In the Type Directors Club’s type design competitions of 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001:
for ITC Woodland™, ITC Japanese Garden™ and ITC Silvermoon™, FF Clifford, and Conrad®, respectively.
Linotype Conrad was based on the fifteenth-century type by Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz: the two German printers active in Rome at that time. They produced a unique, slightly-out-of-balance-but attractive type.
I have designed a couple of typefaces inspired from the past, but this time the original print acted merely as a reference. The distinctive lowercase ’a’ and some other letters were inspired by Sweynheym and Pannartz’s second roman type, but I revived the type in a more informal way. Here I used the historical type as a springboard. The resulting type looks different, taking on a rather contemporary and lively look.
I assume that the Linotype Conrad is the first revival of the Sweynheym and Pannartz type, though it does not closely resemble the original.
In 2011, I created the Akko™ font family. I originally planned to design a sans serif font with rounded corners. But then I was attracted to the idea of a industrial engineering design, something similar to the rectilinear form of DIN Next™, but with curved strokes and soft proportions.
Read our interview with Akira Kobayashi to find out more background information on his latest font release Between.