Facetime 1: Type Designer Eric Olson on Klavika

For many Japanese designers, the cultural and historical nuances of Western typefaces can seem obscure, making choosing a typeface a daunting task. As a result, many Japanese designers stick with familiar favorites like Helvetica or Garamond, or grasp at decorative fonts that lose their flavor after a few bites.

This series was originally conceived for Japanese designers, to introduce well-crafted Western fonts and the contemporary designers behind them. In the end though, we enjoyed these interviews so much ourselves, we decided to publish them in the English too.

Klavika in Use
60 let Akademije za likovno umetnost in oblikovanje. Design by Matjaž Čuk

Photo of Eric Olson

Klavika (2004)

Eric Olson

Process Type Foundry Golden Valley, Minnesota

What was your inspiration for this typeface?

Klavika is a combination of ideas that hadn’t come to pass for me. I tinker and experiment quite a lot, and at the time, I was trying to combine an open left to right motion with something geometric in rhythm but not construction. The two ideas came together to make Klavika. I wish I could say it came quickly, but like most typefaces, it happened over a long period of time and mostly by accident.

Why did you include a full set of arrows with Klavika? How do these tie into its overall concept?

I have a real affinity for ubiquitous but non traditional typographic symbols like arrows. They’re very common, even a standard for signage systems, yet they’re still treated in a very offhand and casual way. They’re almost forgotten in the type palette so they’re naturally of interest to me. For Klavika I made them to the size of the lowercase and capitals so they can be used seamlessly in text and display settings like you would other typographic symbols.

Klavika in Use

Website for Atelier David Smith. Design: group94

What are some of the ideal uses for Klavika?

It was initially designed for mid sizes in print - the 10pt - 100pt range. However, due to it’s squareness, it’s turned out to work well on screen as well. For instance, the NBC network in the U.S. uses the font for much of its screen typography now.

Tail end of the lowercase italic

Which single character do you love the most in Klavika?

I’m pretty happy with the last half of the lowercase italic - the tuvwxyz portion. This part of lowercase sans serif italic is always tricky to letter fit well, so given that, I’m happy with how it turned out. My apologies… that’s seven characters!

Do you have a favorite typeface, or one that has influenced you the most?

Frutiger. Ideologically and aesthetically this typeface is still very important to me. Adrian Frutiger was the first typeface designer that really seemed to make sense to me. His work was driven by application and end use. Even now, his work is deeply modern and relevant, and while I love someone like Eric Gill, Frutiger’s work made me realize that type designers have to make work for their time and not the past.

Other Articles in this series

July 22, 2007