We Asked the Designer of the 2017 D-BROS Calendar “Typeface Calendar” About His Thoughts on the Calendar’s Production Process

2/14/2017 Interview, Kazuya Iwanaga, Products Last modified 2 years ago

The calendars in our classic Typeface Calendar series are simple calendars that utilize the beauty and characteristics of the typeface itself. Since the calendar’s launch in 2007, we’ve chosen a typeface each year to serve as that year’s calendar theme. For its tenth year, we’ve chosen the serif typeface Garamond, which is a classic example of an Old Roman font, to use in the 2017 version. For this post, we interviewed Mr. Kazuya Iwanaga, the latest designer of this calendar.


The Newly-Evolved Typeface Calendar for 2017

–You joined DRAFT as a D-BROS designer, right?

That’s right. I’ve worked her part-time since 2007, and in 2008, I joined DRAFT full-time as a D-BROS designer.

–Have you worked on D-BROS calendars before this?

I’ve always helped in the calendars made by Yoshie-san of KIGI, and in previous Typeface Calendars. I’ve been involved every year, but this is the first time that I am designing everything by myself. Since four years ago, I’ve also been in charge of our Creator’s Diary, so I’ve worked on that all this time.

–The types of calendars have increased this year, so it was tough, wasn’t it?

It was a dramatic increase (laughs).

–Since 2015, the Typeface Calendar has been available in wall, poster, and desktop types. Does designing each one entail different things?

Yes, it does. My approach to the wall-type and poster-type calendars are almost similar, but because each one’s specifications are different, I had to think of different things like paper and ink color for each type.

–Now that you’re the designer of this calendar, was there anything you were particular about?

One big change was that I changed the paper for the wall-type calendar. It’s a type of publishing paper called “Menuet” that’s also used in notebooks. Because some people write their schedule on the calendar, I thought that the paper shouldn’t have a “show-through” effect where the writing is visible on the other side of the paper, so that’s why I chose this paper that’s easy to write on. I also added the next month on the upper right hand corner.


–So these are what’s new in the 2017 version.

That’s right. As a calendar, its functions have improved, but by adding these things, the balance has also changed greatly. So I was very careful in making sure that things were balanced overall, and that the calendar looked beautiful.


Designing Parts that are Unseen

–Were there other things that you were careful about design-wise?

We’ve long had rules about the Typeface Calendar. One of them is that we have to alternate using serif (the little decoration at the end of a letter or number’s stroke) and sans serif (without serifs) typefaces each year. For the 2017 calendar, we chose a serif typeface, so that’s quite detailed, right? Inevitably, the numbers tend to look small, so we made them a little bigger.

–I see. I haven’t noticed that.

The typeface looks dainty, so I also had to make sure that the numbers and letters are easy to see from afar. Also, this is a calendar that features the typeface, so I was also very careful about the composition.


–The composition?

The spaces or distances between each number and letter. For example, the widths of numbers “1” and “3” are different, right? If the spaces between them are the same, the overall balance would look bad, so I finely tweak the spacing. I fix the spaces.

–So it’s not just typing up numbers.

Yes, yes, that’s right. You have to look at how each one balances everything out, and adjust accordingly. That’s why they won’t be uniform even if you accurately measure each one. I put them all together in a way that when you just look at the calendar, you see balance and uniformity.

–You did this for all twelve months, right? That’s really a lot of work.

It felt like it was single-minded, unpretentious work that continued on and on (laughs).

–So there was a lot of detailed work. I thought that making this calendar would be easy because it’s so simple. I’m sorry (laughs).

It looks like there’s not much to it, but in reality there’s a lot (laughs). There’s not much “design” here that stands out, but there are unseen parts that were designed. Precisely because it’s such a simple design, if I did not work on those (unseen) parts properly, conversely they’d stand out. I really had to pay attention to those small details.


The Typeface for the 2017 Typeface Calendar is “Garamond”

–How do you choose a typeface? What are the criteria?

We’ve already used the major typefaces in the past…

–That’s right. We used “Bodoni” in our first Typeface Calendar in 2008, and we’re now in its 10th year.

In that sense, it’s strange that a major typeface such as Garamond has never been chosen before. It’s so surprising that during meetings we even had to talk about how we haven’t used it before. As for the criteria, it has to be a typeface with a history, and that it is widely used in all kinds of places.

–So instead of minor typefaces, you choose classic ones beloved by many for many years.

Yes. And one more thing – typefaces have many derivatives that keep on emerging. For example, “Century” has been influenced by “Helvetica.” Regarding most of these derivatives, we try to choose ones that are closest to the source typeface. We choose ones that are the foundations, the ones that influence various typefaces.

>>Our TYPEFACE CALENDARS: Embodying an impulse for exploration in insatiable design


Design-wise, what role does a typeface play?

–Design-wise, I think that a typeface is an important element, but what is a typeface to a designer?

Hmm, I wonder. For example, say you’ve chosen your top, and it’s blue. Now you’ll have to pick pants that will match your top. That’s important right?

–Yes, that is indeed important. I’ve always been so sure that it was something like an accent piece, like a watch.

Hahaha! It’s very important. The overall impression completely changes because of the typeface.

–From which point of view do you always choose a typeface?

Um, that’s really tough. It’s a feeling. I think that each typeface has something like its own world-view. I try to be conscious of this when I’m creating something new, and I choose a typeface that seems like it will match what I’m making.

–So you choose the typeface while you are designing?

That’s right. If I want to create this look and feel , I think that this  thing will match. That kind of feeling.

–Oh! So that means designers know a lot of typefaces?

I think that there are more designers who know a lot of typefaces (than those who don’t).

–How about you? Did you learn about typefaces?

I study them. For example, when I see a typeface somewhere, and I think that it’s beautiful, I wonder what it is and look it up.

–So when you walk around town, you catch a glimpse of these typefaces?

They do attract my attention. When you’re conscious of something, you really notice it.

–It’s a work-related illness (laughs).

It’s exactly that (laughs). Even if it’s an “original” typeface, I somehow know what the source typeface is.

–Oh, I see. So your “typeface book” can be found all around town.

In the streets, and I also look at “Monsen” a lot.


There are about ten of these books at DRAFT. It’s a typeface sample book with a lot of typefaces. By the way, even a typeface with the same name is slightly different when typed out from a Mac and what’s in the Monsen book. The same “Garamond” is slightly different.


▼Monsen European Typeface Standards Clean Proof: The Big Encyclopedia of Alphabet Typefaces

–Even if it’s the same Garamond? Why?

This may be an overstatement, but if the (printing) block is not in alignment, the second printing will be slightly different from the first printing. The typefaces in Monsen are based on the printed versions, so while they look the same at a glance, the small details are different little by little upon closer inspection. Those nuances are really clear in Monsen. So that’s why I scan the typeface in Monsen, define the outline as a graphic, and turn that into data.


–What? You made each typeface number and letter from scratch?

That’s right. First I scanned what’s in the Monsen, creating each number from 1 to 31.

–I thought you just typed them up on a computer. All this effort at this price? This is inexpensive!

Hahaha! That’s true. It took a lot of effort. Even when I was helping other designers make this calendar, I already thought that calendar-making really takes a lot of work.

–It’s a calendar borne out of your blood and sweat. I’m surprised – I’m sorry I didn’t know (laughs).

Yes (laughs). I was very mindful of creating a design that looked and felt good, and I’ll be happy if those who will use this calendar will think the same.

–That was a very interesting interview. Thank you!


▼You can purchase a 2017 TYPEFACE CALENDAR at the D-BROS TOKYO.

▼Archived designer blog posts by Kazuya Iwanaga
The Life of a Designer, Vol. 5: Mr. Kazuya Iwanaga Tells us About His Everyday Life
Creator’s Diary 2017: From Start to Finish (Finished Product)
Creator’s Diary 2017: From Start to Finish (The Fore Edge)
Creator’s Diary 2017: From Start to Finish (Useful Information)
Creator’s Diary: From Start to Finish (Completed Version)
CREATOR’S DIARY: From Start to Finish (Main Body)

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About the Author

Eriko Fujitani

Born 1982 in Tokyo Japan.
Graduated from Bunka Fashion College.
In 2011, Joined Draft co,ltd.