The fifth installment of “ROLL 12” is the 2016 version of the calendar created by D-BROS Art Director Ryosuke Uehara of Kigi. This three-dimensional calendar wherein pages are turned and held together by an accompanying clip has a unique appearance that stands out, making it a popular choice every year. In the pursuit of simplicity, the 2016 version was completed utilizing the typeface Helvetica. We asked Mr. Uehara what his thoughts were in creating this calendar.


“Before we start, could I just take a look at the finished product?” (Mr. Uehara carefully looks at each page.)

“It’s nice. But don’t write that I said ‘It’s nice’ ok?” (laughs)

–But it really is nice.

“How should I put it? This is the fifth installment of ROLL 12. The previous designs were all different but I thought of doing something a little different this time. When I decided to do something different, I tried a lot of things that I wanted to do in the design and techniques used in the calendar. When I was thinking of what to do, I was thinking, what kind of form is very basic?”

–I see.

“Of course, the calendars in this series have really been pared down design-wise. I designed this latest calendar with the thought of how it could easily be seen. So I thought, what would happen if I pare it down even further? The typefaces used in this series have all been relatively unusual so I thought of making even the typeface for the latest calendar basic, which is why I chose Helvetica. I haven’t really properly used Helvetica as a typeface before.

–Oh I see.

“Yes. There hasn’t been a time when I designed using Helvetica in a leading role.

–Helvetica is indeed a classic typeface.

“It’s extremely classic. It’s an impeccable typeface; and its level of perfection is quite high. Also, it’s favored by everyone. There have been many famous art directors in the past who loved Helvetica so I’ve been avoiding using it because I couldn’t imagine myself standing on the same stage as those famous art directors. But I’ve wanted to use it at least once so this is why I used it in this calendar.”


–There were a lot of meetings among the D-BROS team during the calendars’ production process and you submitted your design the earliest. It seemed that even at the first meeting your design was nearly finalized. Since the beginning you’ve been saying that you wanted to use Helvetica, and even Mr. Miyata agreed right away.

“(That’s because) Mr. Miyata likes Helvetica too (laughs). It’s a typeface favored and used by people of Mr. Miyata’s generation so I thought that he would agree to it when I said ‘I’d like to use Helvetica.’”

–I remember being surprised at how very smoothly the decision-making process went regarding the design.

“This typeface is really simple, isn’t it? I think that right from the start, the completed design was suitable to Helvetica. I also think that Mr. Miyata saw it this way…I’m not sure how to put it but in my mind, Helvetica has a “tangibility” to it.


“In other words, while it is a typeface, it has a real presence, a character of its own.”

–Tangibility is an interesting concept.

“For example, you can’t readily accept in a split second something you’ve never seen before so sometimes you see it as an image, or as some sort of phenomenon. But Helvetica is something you’ve seen many times before so it has a strong presence, almost to the point that it feels like the letters of this typeface have their own shadows – that kind of tangibility. Just its presence is strong enough so any unnecessary design surrounding it will be overpowered. This is why I thought of paring the design down as much as I could and leave elements that are only truly necessary. That’s how I designed the calendar.”

–So is this why you showed color in the printing to compensate?

“That’s right. That’s why I’m very particular about the printing – I’m obsessed with it. It’s almost like I’ve been playing around with it ever since.”

–From a lay person’s perspective, there are a lot of difficult things going on in it.

“Yes, yes (laughs). For example, in the past, I’ve laid a matte black on top of an opaque white, and when printed, it turned into an oxidized silver kind of black. I’ve tried different things like printing after controlling halftone dots. In terms of trying different things with regards to the printing (of this calendar), I wasn’t worried because I knew that my characteristics (as a designer) would naturally come out. I was just careful about how to show Helvetica itself as a strong, cool, typeface with a presence. As a result, I was able to make it simple. Oh well, when all is said and done, I’m quite obsessed with printing.

–The last page is also gorgeous – the page for January 2017.

IMG_8760-1024x768“Yes, this free, “on the house” page is also nice.”

–On the house page (laughs). The ROLL for 2016 was done really well.

“Thank you.”


▼Buy the 2016 D-BROS calendars here