Today’s large font families allow graphic designers to easily create variation — using different weights, widths, or italics — while retaining stylistic consistency. Kunihiko Okano, who is also an experienced package designer, chose an unusual way of creating a useful palette of fonts.
How do you achieve typographic diversity in display use? The layered approach of Quintet gives the designer a toolbox that allows exploration of different shades within the same underlying model. Different weights are implemented in an unconventional way: instead of varying the main strokes, Quintet varies the weight of the outline. And this contour itself is maybe the most remarkable feature of the font: it is in fact broadnib-based double stroke drawn as a single, connected line. This technique itself has been practised by calligraphers for centuries, albeit in ornaments and illustrations, not the letterforms themselves. This way, Quintet gives us the pleasure to enjoy it not only once at first sight but again as we discover its clever loops and connections.
You could think of so many design possibilities with Quintet, as well as applications. It could be perfect for chocolate packaging or cosmetics — perhaps each layer printed in a different colour, or maybe one layer embossed, or even better foil blocked? It is not often in student projects that one could instantly see applications of the font so clearly.
Quintet was originally developed at the type]media type design course in The Hague. If we remember correctly, the first two of the unofficial rules of the program are “Make it extreme” and “Enough is enough”, and Quintet is a perfect example of this. It is remarkable in that it implements so many concepts without looking like a mash-up. Despite its richness, the typeface looks strangely simple and systematic. It must have taken a lot of self-discipline, trying and discarding of options. Hats off!
Shoko Mugikura is a typographer and graphic designer currently based in Berlin. Since spring 2010, she has been jointly running the type design studio Just Another Foundry with Tim Ahrens, while she continues to work on her own projects.