D-BROS’ “Typeface Calendar” is a series of calendars utilizing the beauty and special characteristics of typefaces. Each year, a typeface is chosen for that year’s theme, and for 2018, the typeface chosen was “Avant Garde.”

At first glance, the calendar might look plain and simple but in reality, it’s chock-full of meticulous details that can only come from a design company. We spoke to Mr. Kazuya Iwanaga and Mr. Ren Yamakawa, the designers of the 2018 calendar about their thoughts during production.

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“Avant Garde,” 2018’s Typeface

–What kind of typeface is Avant Garde?

Iwanaga: “Avant Garde” was originally designed as a typeface for the title of a magazine overseas with the same name. It was an art magazine, and at the time, I think it exuded a novel, sensational impression!

▼Avant Garde was an art magazine published between 1968 and 1971 with 14 issues.
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–That’s right. I can feel a unique sense of dynamism. The number zero is also distinctive.

Iwanaga: It is indeed geometrical. It seems that it was made using the typeface Futura as a reference.

▼A typeface with an anatomy formed by geometric figures
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▼Avant Garde was used in the logo of Nintendo’s first generation game console “Family Computer.”
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Iwanaga: Each typeface does not have big features, but there are several patterns within a letter or number, and the combination of these imparts an interesting impression. This typeface has a very playful vibe to it.

Yamakawa: Combining several letters into one is called ligature, and this design is very distinctive!

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▼These are combinations of the letters C and A, and C and O. Other ligatures can be found in Avant Garde.
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–That’s interesting. Are there other typefaces that have this characteristic?

Iwanaga: There are, but I think that a typeface with this much ligatures is rare.

–Were ligatures used in the calendar?

Iwanaga: No. I thought that it would be interesting to use them on the designs for the title and the logo for impact, but they’re difficult to read so we decided not to use them.

–From what perspective did you choose Avant Garde?

Iwanaga: We alternate between serif (Ming-style typeface) and sans serif (Gothic typeface) for the typeface we use each year in the Typeface Calendar series, so for this year I thought of using sans serif. Last year’s typeface (Garamond) was a very fine, delicate typeface, so I thought of using one that makes a strong impression (this year).

▼“Garamond,” 2017’s Typeface
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A Design where Nothing Feels Out of Place

–What is the most important aspect in designing a calendar?

Iwanaga: Because a calendar is something that decorates a room for a whole year, the most important aspect is how beautiful it would look when it’s hung on a wall. We’re a design company, so we’re thoroughly particular about that.

–Specifically speaking, what kind of work do you do for that?

Yamakawa: Firstly, we begin by scanning the typony (a dictionary of alphabet typefaces) and make each and every letter and number, in order to bring out their detailed nuances. We worked on the calendar continuously for several months – I was surprised that people spend this much time on production at D-BROS.

–I see. So you wrote out all the numbers.

Yamakawa: And one more difficult thing was aligning the horizontal level with the straight vertical.

Iwanaga: This process is called aligning the letters and numbers. For example, the 0 in Avant Garde is distinct with a large width, so the appearance of the left and right margins changes. If the numbers are aligned from the center, they would look wobbly, so we had to adjust each and every one.

Yamakawa: We adjusted each one many times over, in units of 0.00 millimeters.

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–That’s very detailed work. I wonder if all the other calendars out there are aligned to that degree.

Iwanaga: No, I don’t think many of them are aligned that much.

–Do you know just by looking?

Iwanaga: I do, I can tell.

Yamakawa: I know if they were typed up using a computer, and I can also tell immediately if they were properly made from scratch.

Iwanaga: I’m not sure just how much our customers will notice, but I think that the most beautiful way of constructing things is the way wherein nothing feels out of place. It’s when you don’t think that these numbers are too close to each other, or too small. I always try to create a layout that seamlessly comes into view.

–I see. Because nothing feels out of place, we don’t notice those tiny details.

Iwanaga: You can probably say that the proof of beautiful design is not being made to notice the tiny details.

–Are there any changes to this year’s design?

Iwanaga: The layout hasn’t changed from last year, but we changed the color for the weekend and holidays. Right from the start, I thought about making them a strong red. Last year, the color was fluorescent, but this time, I wanted to convey classical elements and strength.

–Mr. Yamakawa, it was your first time making a D-BROS calendar. How was it?

Yamakawa: Yes. I started with looking for candidate typefaces, but there are tens of thousands out there. I thought it was such a monumental undertaking, and it was so hard to choose just one. But I learned about the history of typefaces in my research, so it was informative. Up until that point, I was only interested in typefaces that I like, so it was very interesting to delve into other typefaces. As a designer, I thought that it was a very good experience for me.

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What is a Typeface to a Designer?

–So now I’d like to ask Mr. Yamakawa the same question I asked Mr. Iwanaga last year. What is a typeface to a designer?

Yamakawa: Because typefaces are things that a graphic designer has relationships with for life, I feel that just how much I can deepen my understanding of them is important.

–If you can liken it to something, what would a typeface be?

Yamakawa: Um, that’s hard. What could it be? It’s probably something like the (soup) stock of a dish. It’s a base, a foundation. It’s not something that stands out, but it’s important because it changes the taste of a dish.

–Soup stock (laughs). That’s interesting.

Iwanaga: Yup, but it really could be (laughs).

–Do you have a favorite typeface?

Iwanaga: Last year, I replied “Futura,” but recently I’m into “Clarendon.” It’s a fat and manly typeface, and it was one of the final contenders for this year’s typeface. Up until now, we’ve mostly had comparatively cute designs. But recently, I’ve been feeling strongly about cool designs, so it’s a typeface that I want to use the most now.

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Yamakawa: When Clarendon was named a candidate, I also thought that it was a really good typeface.
–You both like the same one (laughs).

Yamakawa: Mr. Iwanaga was really pushing for Clarendon, so I was influenced (laughs).

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–Lastly, is there anything you’d like to try or do something more with future Typeface Calendars?

Iwanaga: We’ve been working on the layout using trial and error for 11 years, and we’ve finally arrived at the best one. So I think it’s important to keep on launching this product every year.

Yamakawa: I’d be glad if this calendar makes people interested in typefaces and design.

–That’s right, it’s probably the most important thing to keep on going. Thank you.

▼You can buy the Calendar here
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▼Back issues about Kazuya Iwanaga
Sophisticated Handkerchiefs
Folding Fans and Sophistication
We Asked the Designer of the 2017 D-BROS Calendar “Typeface Calendar” About His Thoughts on the Calendar’s Production Process
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)

▼Back issues about Ren Yamakawa
Creator’s Diary 2018: From Start to Finish (Finished Product)
Creator’s Diary 2018: From Start to Finish (An Introduction)
My Art Graduation Project

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