This Startup Designs Indian Language Fonts for Apple, Google & 300 Others

When he was doing the lettering for the initiatives of classmates in boarding college in Rajasthan, Satya Rajpurohit had no inkling that this talent would lead him to go a design agency that has developed 450 font households for 20 writing methods on the planet.

“I loved the inventive course of however didn’t but perceive that this was a elementary facet of sort design. Later, I turned fascinated with radium quantity plates for automobiles and bikes, which led me to experiment with customized letter shapes. I’d provide this service to my family and friends at no cost simply so I might see my lettering getting used. This was my unintended first step into public typography,” says the unassuming 40-year-old.

Satya co-founded Indian Sort Foundry (ITF) in 2009 in Ahmedabad.

“We began ITF with only one font household (Fedra Hindi). Since then, we now have produced over 450 font households, together with 300 retail font households out there for licensing and round 150 customized and open-source fonts. A few of our hottest fonts are Kohinoor, Volte, Akhand, Poppins, Satoshi, Common Sans, Swatzer, Teko, and Hind,” he says.

Remodeling typographic panorama with Indian languages

The agency clocks an annual income of near USD 2 million (Rs 16.48 crore roughly) and has round 300 shoppers from Fortune 500 firms. Amongst its shoppers are giants — akin to Apple, Google, Samsung, Sony, Amazon, Hyundai, Unilever, Tata Play, Star Sports activities, SBI, Zee TV, Mahindra, Disney, Kotak, Discovery, and Aaj Tak. 

In 2010, Satya obtained the distinguished ‘SoTA Catalyst Award’ offered by the Society of Typographic Aficionados. He has been featured in Fortune India’s ‘40 Beneath 40’ listing for 3 consecutive years (2016, 2017 and 2018). In 2017, he was additionally on GQ India’s ‘50 Most Influential Younger Indians’ listing.

As we speak, ITF is recognised as one of many main sort foundries globally, having developed fonts for non-Indian languages — together with Thai, Cyrillic (Russian), Greek, Hebrew, Sinhalese and Korean. 

Nevertheless, what makes ITF particular is its deal with Indian languages.

Akhand multiscript by ITF
Akhand multiscript by ITF

“Our mission was to create a complete assortment of premium fonts for Indian languages, pushed by a want for cultural preservation, innovation, and addressing the wants of India’s various linguistic heritage,” says Satya. 

The organising of ITF was the results of a collaboration with a Dutch typographer, Peter Bilak. 

Peter supplied him the possibility to design a Devanagari (Hindi) font for his firm. “When this font was full, we looked for foundries that might publish it. Nevertheless, there have been no foundries in India at the moment for Indian languages. This realisation prompted us to launch our personal foundry with only one font in our library,” he relates.

The corporate secured Star Plus as one among its first shoppers, who licensed its first Hindi font.

Brahmos font style by ITF
Brahmos font model by ITF

The huge linguistic variety of India, with over 11 official writing methods and quite a few languages, was largely underserved by the worldwide typographic business. Satya and Bilak observed the dearth of high quality and selection in fonts out there for Indic languages when in comparison with the in depth choices for Latin scripts.

Creating fonts for Indian languages is more difficult than doing so for world languages, says Satya, as a result of Indian languages, not like Latin, are complicated to attract and have bigger character units that require a number of months, and generally even years, to design. 

Moreover, it’s exhausting to search out seasoned designers who’re snug with each the language and the sort design. The ‘matras’ in Indian languages add to the complexity.

‘I can not think about a single day not occupied with fonts’

Satya’s mother and father wished him to turn out to be a physician; so he spent two years in Kota however didn’t clear the exams. That’s when he determined to pursue his curiosity in artwork as an alternative. He joined Chandigarh School of High-quality Arts, and whereas finding out there, he discovered in regards to the Nationwide Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. He then secured admission to the distinguished design institute.

“The 2 years at Kota have been the worst of my life. I used to be not an excellent scholar at college besides in artwork. Even when I had cleared the medical exams and turn out to be a physician, I’d have been a horrible physician as a result of it was not one thing I wished to be,” says Satya with a rueful smile.

Indic fonts by ITF
Indic fonts by ITF

At NID, he obtained desirous about movement graphics, one utility of which is creating titles and credit for movies. Nevertheless, right here serendipity performed a key function. He “stumbled upon an sudden alternative” in his third 12 months — an internship in sort design at Linotype, the pioneer in making high-quality typefaces.

“That have was transformative. In these three months, I delved into the world of typography, gaining an understanding of its significance and intricacies. The expertise ignited my ardour for sort design and reshaped my profession trajectory,” explains Satya.

His internships at Linotype in Germany and Dalton Maag within the UK have been pivotal in making ready him to arrange his personal enterprise. They taught him the essential mix of precision and creativity wanted in sort design.

“I can not think about a single day not occupied with fonts. A font is a group of letters, numbers and symbols, all dressed up in a sure model. After I design fonts, it’s like I’m designing outfits for phrases to allow them to categorical completely different feelings and concepts,” shares Satya.

Fonts have long-term worth. For example, Helvetica was first revealed in 1957, but this font stays related even as we speak. ITF develops each conventional fonts (used for textual content in books and newspapers) and experimental or show fonts.

Conventional fonts, akin to Instances New Roman and Arial, prioritise readability and flexibility. In distinction, experimental fonts transcend performance and embrace progressive shapes, ideas and designs. These fonts prioritise creative expression and invigorate visible design. They’ve a whole lot of character and are utilized in headlines, logos and posters. For sports activities occasions, youngsters’s books, and movie posters, ‘grunge’ (messy textual content) is used at occasions, he explains. 

Satya making a presentation about the various Indian language fonts by ITF.
Satya making a presentation in regards to the numerous Indian language fonts by ITF.

The corporate’s hottest font is the Kohinoor sequence designed by Satya. “Earlier than Kohinoor, there was no font that might help all Indian languages. For example, in an airport in Gujarat, we’d like signage in three languages — English, Hindi, and Gujarati. Fonts in a household are aesthetically constant. Apple has licensed the Kohinoor household. For those who get a message in Hindi or Gujarati from an Apple system, the font might be from our Kohinoor sequence,” says Satya.

By the way, the Kohinoor font household is on show completely in London’s The Design Museum. 

The inspirations and improvements driving ITF

One of many greatest challenges ITF confronted was the shortage of expert sort designers in India. College students and interns have been skilled and added to the group. As we speak. the group of 25 members are unfold throughout the globe.

One other vital hurdle was cultivating a marketplace for fonts. Extra individuals, together with college students, are actually keen to spend money on high quality fonts, recognising their influence on the effectiveness of communication and branding.

ITF office at Ahmedabad
ITF workplace at Ahmedabad

The costs of ITF fonts vary from simply Rs 2,500 for a one-user desktop licence to a number of lakhs a 12 months for a big enterprise licence.

“At ITF, we provide free licences to college students and lecturers, aiming to help schooling and nurture the subsequent technology of designers. In 2021, we launched ‘Fontshare’, offering 25% of our retail font library at no cost, to make high-quality fonts accessible to everybody. Fontstore was envisaged as a market however at the moment, we promote solely our personal fonts. High quality and royalty are two points that come up if we promote fonts developed by others,” he explains.

Other than growing fronts from scratch, ITF additionally acquires fonts. Lately, it has acquired a number of impartial foundries. “We’re on the cusp of launching a brand new umbrella-type foundry that can unite all our manufacturers. Our aim is to develop our retail library. A key focus for us is making certain our library is inclusive, representing not simply English or Indian languages but additionally these which are endangered and fewer represented worldwide.

Speaking about his inspirations within the sphere of typography, Satya names Adrian Frutiger — the Swiss sort designer identified for his readability and performance in fonts like Univers and Frutiger — and Herb Lubalin — a inventive typographer who infused letters with emotion and narrative. Eric Gill’s harmonious mix of basic and trendy kinds, evident in typefaces like Gill Sans and Perpetua, has additionally guided his strategy to design.

These pioneers have formed his understanding of how sort can talk past phrases, mixing artistry with utility, says Satya.

Satya co-founded Indian Type Foundry (ITF) in 2009 in Ahmedabad.
Satya co-founded Indian Sort Foundry (ITF) in 2009 in Ahmedabad.

Satya is the eldest amongst three brothers and one sister. His mother and father have settled down in Jodhpur. He’s joyful that his profitable enterprise has enabled him to repay a major debt for his father and help his sister’s pursuit of a design profession. At the moment single, he has been residing in Ahmedabad since 2004 when he joined NID.

He enjoys classical, Sufi, and Rajasthani people music. Whereas he used to play sports activities at school, as we speak he often finds time for video video games. He likes watching films, principally Bollywood dramas and comedies. He prefers low-budget movies, which don’t function huge stars — a latest favorite is ‘12th Fail’.

Concerning work-life stability, Satya says, “Operating my very own enterprise affords me the pliability to work by myself phrases. Additionally, I discover immense pleasure in what I do, which blurs the strains between work and leisure for me.”

Edited by Pranita Bhat

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