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Image Credit: Renae Turner
In a new blog series focusing on design perspectives around the world, we look at the rich typography landscape in Thailand. In today's global culture, appropriate communication and connection are key. We spoke to font designer and creator of Ekkamai Foundry, Worachet Deeyai, to find out how he uses typography to connect with international audiences.
Co-founder @ Pixel Together
Thursday 14th January 2021
'I started working on fonts and typography to differentiate my work and create a unique personality for my designs.'
I saw a gap in the market for an all-round design studio focused on the importance of typography and communication design. At Ekkamai Foundry, we specialize in communication design that incorporates branding to express the client’s personality. Often, we encourage our clients to consider the budget to create a customised typography to fit with their newly created or refreshed branding. This does a better job of communicating the intended brand vision and mission and lets them differentiate their personality within the crowded market.
Image Credit: Worachet Deeyai
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Thailand has a unique typography design, using our own glyph. We have 44 alphabets, with 21 vowels, which make up to 32 sounds and five levels of tones. That makes for a lot of combinations when it comes to scripts. Also, the Thai writing system is not only in a linear horizontal arrangement. We also have vowels that can be placed before, after, below, or above the alphabet and tone marks can be placed above the alphabet in the writing system.
There are two prominent Thai font types, looping and loopless, which are like Sans and Sans Serif in Latin. Looping is mostly used in designs with small font sizes and has more of a conservative feeling. Loopless is a Latin look-alike, focused more on simplified design that doesn’t need much original Thai glyph detail.
'We’ve started to take famous and frequently used Latin fonts and tried to develop them into Thai fonts. Reverse engineering!'
In terms of design, there are a few challenges. Like, the spacing is different depending on each alphabet, making it a lot harder to manage in a modern typography system.
Modernizing the Thai font is a challenging process, and we are still working on different methods to make it more loopless and Latin-like. Of course, we want to be able to honour both. While the loopless method fits with modern design culture, the looping one is still the root but it’s harder to balance and modernize properly.
When it comes to implementation, almost every tool currently available on the market focuses on Latin font design and rarely fully supports minority fonts like Thai. The challenge is to get support and make the tweaks required, so the font works with the available tools. This sometimes requires writing some additional script or involves coding.
Issues also occur when you’re trying to find a Thai font to pair with a Latin font in design. With many different structures and characteristics, it is hard to find the right pairing. So, we’ve started to take famous and frequently used Latin fonts and tried to develop them into Thai fonts. Reverse engineering!
As the younger generations are used to modernizing font style, I think the original conservative looping style will be limited to design related to culture or needs readability. And for sure, the government-related work will still stick to their cultural guidelines.
But for the overall design culture, I would say it will be more simplified and playful since the typography is part of the culture and the culture keeps on developing and changing through the generations. Maybe someone will find a way to fuse the two distinct styles. I personally love the possibilities.
Image Credit: Renae Turner
What do you think the typography design scene in Thailand will be like over the next five years?
Typography is a reflection of culture. It is such a rich art form with a longstanding heritage in almost every culture on the planet. It’s extraordinary how you can convey the spirit and personality of a culture by taking the time to craft a meaningful and bespoke typeface for it.
See more of Worachet’s work at: https://www.ekkamaifoundry.com/
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'It’s extraordinary how you can convey the spirit and personality of a culture by taking the time to craft a meaningful and bespoke typeface for it.'
How do you think typography can work to connect cultures?
Wednesday 13th January 2021
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