4 Questions 4… Shoko Mugikura and Tim Ahrens
Type designer Tim Ahrens and typographer Shoko Mugikura founded Just Another Foundry in 2004, which is both a retail library and provider of custom typefaces. We’re delighted that Shoko and Tim have joined us for a special twofer edition of 4 Questions 4.
Shoko studied Visual Communication Design at Musashino Art University in Tokyo, and Book Design at the University of Reading (UK). She has worked on various information design projects, such as re-designing bills for major telecommunications companies and utility providers, and on editorial design projects for Polimekanos. Shoko has spoken about multi-script typography at many conferences, including the ICHLL5 at Oxford University, ATypI in Dublin, Typotag in Munich, TYPO Berlin, and TypeTalks.
Tim has a degree in architecture from the University of Karlsruhe (Germany), and holds an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading (UK). He created the programming project Font Remix Tools, a set of plug-ins that allows a user to harmonize glyph shapes, tune width, and more. A specialist in web font technology, Tim has worked as a consultant for Typekit, and lectures regularly.
1. How did you originally get interested in typography and design?
Shoko: I am from Japan, where arguably one of the world’s most complex writing systems (employing 4 different scripts!) is used. As a design student in Tokyo I gradually became obsessed with Latin typography, which to my eyes looks extremely simple and systematic—the opposite of Japanese. I decided that what I want to do is Latin typography, and left the country for Europe. I am a typographic immigrant.
Tim: I started designing type in 1998, while I was studying architecture. Drawing a font by myself felt completely natural to me. I didn’t even know there were type design courses, and I did not know any type designers or typographers personally. Looking back, I believe this isolated, unbiased beginning in the subject—simply studying other fonts in order to learn from them—helped me realize that looking very carefully is more important than background information or “rules of the craft.”
2. What typography trends are you loving most these days?
Both: It is really great to see webfonts becoming so widely used. Designers no longer need to make a compromise in terms of type choice. It was a very different situation in 2010, when we became one of the first foundries to offer webfonts. Web typography is no longer just trying to imitate print, but is developing into a culture of its own.
We think JAF Bernini Sans best illustrates our collaboration as typographer and type designer. It represents our most important aim, which is to create a design that is unique and clever, but also so skillfully implemented that people don’t notice the genius of it at first glance.
4. Describe your dream project.
The dream project for any designer would be a custom font for a big, famous, design-conscious brand, such as Apple. It’s a pity they recently made their own typeface. We still think we could do something that better fits Apple’s ambition to lead in design.