Mumbai designers play with fonts to create funky daily-use products

  • Kanika Sharma, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Sep 09, 2015 12:52 IST

You could start your day with a sacred cup of coffee that drips with the word ‘Bismillah’ in glorious Urdu script, or write your diary in a bold notebook that sports the A to Z of being a woman — M for menstruation, N for nailpaint, P for pregnancy, and so on.

With the word going digital, a slew of edgy graphic designers in Mumbai are creating funky daily-use products that play with various typefaces, which make the rap-on-the-knuckles for bad handwriting passé. These products, which include postcards, art prints, mugs, board games and cushions, project a unique tone and feel.

India’s street artists have contributed to popularising the art of typography recently, says Karan Anand, creative head, Kulture Shop, a graphic design firm for lifestyle products. “At the St+art street art festival in 2014, for instance, poems on imprisonment by inmate Seema Raghuvanshi were painted on the walls of the Tihar Jail in Delhi in hand-written letter type, to be read by drivers passing by,” says Anand.

“Types affect you at a deep, subconscious level. When you see a menu in a bad font, you are instantly put off. This week, Google donned a new type that had the world buzzing,” says animator and illustrator Arushi Kathuria, 24, who is behind the female A to Z project.

Go on, then, find your type.

* On the cards

Bangalore-based website is a platform for artists, designers and illustrators to showcase and sell designs as cards, art prints, canvases, coasters, T-shirts and hoodies.

Shikha Nambiar, Bangalore-based designer, sells her postcards on this website. She got interested in lettering with the hashtag #DoodleADay, and started playing with quotes. Her hand-painted letter series is inspired by the vivid lettering associated with truck art. The kitschy medley of Hinglish with sayings such as ‘Lots of Pyaar’ give an intimate feel.

Delhi-based lawyer Shloka Vaidyanathan, 29, bought a postcard from Nambiar, which says, ‘You are my favourite reason to sleep’ for her boyfriend. “I found the concept very sweet. Shikha’s lettering is very intimate, making it feel that it has just been scribbled on the back of a card. This made it perfect for a gift.”

Available on:

Cost: Rs 195 onwards

* A prayer on your lips

“Every time you start something new, you say Bismillah. In my case, that’s with a cup of coffee,” says Pune-based design student Furqan Jawed, 23, who designed the mugs back in 2013 as part of a student project, and as a way to revisit his roots. They will be available at Kulture Shop by the end of the month.

“The designs are very out-of-the-box and project a hipster vibe with the formal Urdu script, which makes them very unusual,” says Karan Anand of Kulture Shop.

Jawed, unfamiliar with the challenges of the Urdu script — inconsistent height of the letters and a different baseline — had no prior knowledge of the language.

Available at: Kulture Shop, Hill View 2, 2nd Floor, No. 201, 241 Hill Road, opposite Mehboob Studios, Bandra (West)

Price on request

* Make your own stamps

Sheena Devaiah of Ragamuffin Illustrations suggests playing with types by making rubber stamps, at home. You can carve out a word or a letter to stamp your personal expression.

Here’s how to do it yourself:

Buy a regular eraser, but keep in mind the size of the word you want to print.

Choose the word or letter that you want to carve and then write it in reverse (otherwise it’ll print the mirror image).

Take a regular paper cutter to carve out the blank spaces on the eraser, leaving just the letter/word raised.

The stamp is now ready to be used. Press it onto an ink pad (available in red, purple, black and green at any stationary store) and print it on any surface, preferably paper.

* Pillow talk

Lifestyle brand Chumbak has dedicated many designs to type. Their alphabet cushion covers make the geeky discipline come alive, with multi-layered alphabets that stand out in various kinds of outlines. The alphabets are filled with Aztec and geometric prints, and the cushions exude a neo-tribal vibe.

Vivek Prabhakar, CEO, Chumbak, says, “Typography has been core to our design. Since Chumbak’s inception five years ago, our designs with type have evolved. We have moved from using a playful type to variations of cleaner typography now used in our designs.”

“I have cushion covers from Chumbak with the alphabet K designed in Devnagri,” says Karishma Mathe, 23, a media professional and Bandra resident. “It really makes my sofa set stand out, and has a funky vibe that suits my personality.”

Available on:

Cost: Rs 595 onwards

(The writer tweets @kanika4444 )

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