To what degree have requirements for typefaces changed in recent years?
Akira Kobayashi: I can best explain by taking Tazugane as an example. The very idea of a ?Japanese typeface to complement Frutiger would have been a non-starter ten years ago when I was managing the Neue Frutiger project with Adrian Frutiger. When I joined Linotype as Type Director in 2001, there was barely any demand for my knowledge of Japanese lettering design. But now I am incorp?orating many East Asian characters. I have to say that the trend has reversed dramatically over the past ten years, much faster than I expected.
Tazugane was really a bolt from the blue – but might that be one of the primary functions of typographers in future – combining alphabets from various cultural heritages together in one font?
Akira Kobayashi: Nowadays it is no longer particularly special for a Latin typeface to incorp?orate Cyrillic or Greek letters. For large companies or for certain brands, it is very important today to support several languages in a unified voice, »voice« being understood to be, of course, not the audible but the visible voice.
Our strength at Monotype is certainly our international network of designers, which enables us to depict both western and Asiatic language characters. In future it will become even more important to send information on European brands to Asian countries. I love the idea of information communicated by Latin alphabets and Asian characters juxtaposed in perfect harmony, so that is my aim. We have invested four years developing complementary Chinese (M XiangHe Hei, 2018), Japanese (Tazugane Gothic, 2017) and Korean (Seol Sans, 2018) fonts for Neue Frutiger. A few weeks ago, our Japanese typeface Tazugane Gothic won the 2018 Good Design Award in Japan. I believe that our East/West collaboration is opening up a new era.