Design and creative agency e-Types was founded in 1997. Their goal is to “design that one, visionary idea” for their clientele which consists of artists, people from the cultural and fashion worlds. Playtype started in 2011, as an online store for the fonts that e-Types have created. At the same time, a physical store was launched the same time as a one-year pop-up store. However, it still exists and keeps selling products, on which the fonts of the Danish designers are applied.
#1. When was Playtype founded and how was the idea of it perceived?
After almost two decades of creating fonts, the brand and design agency, e-Types founded Playtype in December 2011. The physical store was created as a sidekick to the online font shop, playtype.com. The store was only meant to be a pop-up store for one year, but after great interest from around we decided to keep it and expand with more collaborations and products. When creating a new font, we also launch a new product or a collection that showcases that font, so the products will always be up to date with what is going on at the studio.
#2. Were the Playtype products something that you have been thinking of ever since Playtype was founded?
When we launched Playtype, our plan wasn’t exactly to turn it into a complete brand with clothing, accessories and interior. At first, the product side of Playtype was a gimmick and way to brand the online store, but we soon realized how well our designs were received. Our director, Rasmus Ibfelt, is originally trained as a fashion designer so it has been his dream to create garments. In our latest project; the SS15 collection, we’ve included scarfs, sweatshirts and skateboards and will be available from the beginning of 2015.
#3. There is also a Playtype store, selling exclusively the foundry’s products. Did you expect such a success, from the beginning?
Right from the beginning we believed in the idea of a concept store only dedicated to our own typefaces, but we probably hadn’t expected it to become as well known as it is now. Playtype was the first, and might still be, the only typography concept store in the world. Being original and one-of-a-kind has definitely also generated a lot of attention. Monocle actually had a six page spread only about Playtype(!) – A lot of people still remember that.
Even though the company has been creating typography for years, I think Playtype hit a nerve. It seems, that during the last couple years or so, being into typography has really turned into a trend – alongside with this certain Scandinavian style of living, says Store Manager Simone Øster.
#4. What do you have in mind when creating a font? Where do you draw inspiration from and how does the whole process works?
“I mostly work with body text fonts, so readability is an important thing for me. We do not make any silly looking fonts, and not a lot of display fonts either actually. When it comes to inspiration, I find it everywhere from flowers to stair railings. Often it’s traditional and historical things like signs and books” says Partner, Director and designer, Jonas Hecksher.
#5. What makes a good font?
A good font is inextricably linked with the content it conveys. It needs to express and reflect what the words are saying and welcome its recipients. Choosing the right font is vital! Our latest typeface, Berlingske is a ‘good’ font because it is so diverse. Berlingske was originally created for the Danish newpaper with the same name. Now, after four years of further development, we’ve got a huge typeface with extended styles, language and weights, it represents a wide ranged family that gives the user freedom to play around and give any section or subject area a specific tonality without sacrificing consistency. The font family comes in 227 weights, compatible for 170 different languages and it contains in total almost half a million different glyphs.
The design is carefully balanced to provide a significant modernization while paying homage to a unique heritage. It’s crafted to give a smooth and exclusive look that optimizes the visual experience: providing a clear and sharp readability while being aesthetically pleasing.
#6. Do you have any favourite fonts? Which ones are the most popular?
Jonas Hecksher: “The font that I’m about to make on is always my favorite”
Some of our most popular and sold fonts are Nationale, Berlingske Serif, Q Stencil, ID00 and De Archie.
#7. Are there any future plans for Playtype?
Jonas Hecksher: We are currently working a Didone type, which is a further development of our popular ’Q’ typeface. As mentioned before we are also looking very much forward to releasing our first clothing collection and we are very exicited about new retailers around the world, from Canada to South Korea and Japan.