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Digitising Indian Ink

Although my interest in Indian hand-lettered typography is no secret – I was heartened to receive news of the launch of the Indian Type Foundry earlier this month. Especially as their premiere release is Fedra Hindi which was co-designed by my former typography student from India’s National Institute of Design – Satya Rajpurohit.
Fedra Hindi was a 2 year collaboration with esteemed Dutch typographer Peter Bi’lak of the Typotheque foundry. It is based on Bi’lak’s versatile Fedra font which is sought after for its contemporary elegance that confidently walks the typographic-tightrope between print and on-screen performance. Designed with acute sensitivity to structure and detail, Fedra has featured on postage stamps to corporate communications and has been developed further for non-Latin scripts, including Arabic.
Dutch Royal Mail stamps designed by Peter Bi’lak, employing the Fedra Serif font. Inspiration for the stamps came from aerial views of Dutch tulip and agricultural fields.

Bi’lak and Rajpurohit’s Indian Type Foundry signals a shrinking of the void in quality digitised Indic type design. They promise that this first Devanagari release will be followed by typefaces in the nine Indic scripts, including Gujarati, Bengali and Tamil. I await with keen interest in how the foundry’s typefaces will be used in India – by whom, in what contexts and for which audiences.

Local designers are not the only ones paying attention to this significant development. The Foundry and typeface were launched last week at Design Yatra in Mumbai. The event has been gathering momentum in fostering global participation with Indian studios for the past three years. Renowned typographer and presenter Erik Spiekermann mentioned that he now knew who to turn to for collaboration on Meta Hindi after seeing Rajpurohit present the results of their rigourous approach to Fedra Hindi.
Satya Rajpurohit interned at Linotype in Frankfurt and Dalton Maag in London (for our TypeShed 11 buddy, Bruno Maag). Initial contact with Peter Bi’lak led to research and the gathering of handwritten Indic script samples on his return India. This later developed into a productive online partnership tackling more ambitious endeavours, including Fedra which Rajpurohit had long admired. Although his native script is Devanagari (Hindi), he has grown to appreciate and admire different Indic scripts for their relative qualities.

“Bengali shines for me with its flow and rhythm, whereas in Tamil I find the joys of open forms and individualised letters.”

He goes on to note that a key role of the Indian Type Foundry is to create a platform for other designers of Indic scripts – with submissions welcome from both local and global typographers. And given a nation of over one billion that’s multilingual, multicultural and multi-layered – no matter which script you choose – it certainly spells exciting times ahead.

Typo-trivia: The logo of the National Institute of Design (where I taught Satya) was designed by Swiss type legend Adrian Frutiger.

Related articles:
Indocentric: Typocentric
Two Rupees Worth (Design Observer)

Opening image via Hindi Rinny

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Satya September 16, 2009, 2:47 AM

    We’d also like to mention a key role of Indian Type Foundry is not only to design and distribute fonts in India, but also to educate local people in India about typography. We intend to hold lectures, workshops, etc. in future.

  • Meena Kadri September 16, 2009, 9:33 AM

    And here’s a sneak preview of Satya Rajpurohit’s upcoming typeface Engrez Sans. In a family of six weights, it’s still under development but the whole household will be available for licensing from Dalton Maag soon!



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