Care in the design community

A compilation of ongoing projects that draw designers’ attention to the problems and specifics of particular communities and address tasks related to them (merely practical, but extremely important).

January 10, 2024

Words of Type

Most modern terms and notions related to type and typography are English-speaking and mainly describe design of Latin-based type. Yet there is a huge amount of elements in CJK languages that don’t exist in Latin, which means there are no English words and language to define them.

A graduate of TypeMedia and Type Cooper Lisa Huang, together with her former classmates and professors, is creating a typographic glossary that introduces such terms and systematises those already existing. The project is still getting ready for launch, but its contents have already been translated into Chinese, Korean, German, French, and Japanese. (The German translation was done by Mona Franz, a co-author of the Grato and Gratimo collection.)



Fontra is an open source font editor made by Black[Foundry] and DrawBot founder Just van Rossum. As opposed to, say, Fontlab and RoboFont, Fontra exists as a web app and enables live collaboration of a design team on the same typeface at the same time.

Fontra bills itself as a variable native editor tool and promises to facilitate handling variable elements and expedite the process of producing fonts supporting CJK languages.

The first versions of web and desktop apps are now available for free, but after 2023, when Google Fonts stops financing the project, the tool will probably become commercial..


Missing scripts

Missing scripts — cовместный проект ANRT (Ателье исследований типографики) и дизайн-лаборатории университета Майнца. Цель проекта — задокументировать максимальное количество письменностей, когда-либо существовавших на земле.

Студенты ANRT изучают существующие памятники и на их основе делают шрифты, которыми могут пользоваться как учёные-историки (если язык мёртвый), так и непосредственно носители языка. Студенты из Майнца же используют работу ателье, чтобы подготовить заявку для внесения письменности в юникод.

Прямо сейчас у Missing scripts в работе больше 130 языков, большая часть которых используются или использовались в Африке и Океании.

Missing Scripts is a joint initiative of Atelier National de Recherche Typographique (ANRT) and the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz design lab. The project aims to identify as many writing systems that have ever existed as possible.

The ANRT students study the surviving written artefacts and create typefaces based on them — those typefaces can be used by both historians (if it’s an extinct, dead language) and native speakers themselves. The students at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz use these work results to prepare an application for the script to be encoded in the Unicode standard.

The Missing Script is currently processing over 130 scripts, most of which are used — or were once used — in Africa and Oceania.

Bye Bye Binary

Bye Bye Binary is a French-Belgian initiative studying inclusive writing. They are now focused on building a library of fonts that contain gender gaps haracters used to refer to several genders at the same time. For example, German typographic convention used to indicate gender inclusion is a ‘gender star’ — an asterisk before the feminine suffix — so there’s no need to introduce any special glyphs, while inclusive French requires an extra set of ligatures. The project website offers information on these ligatures with their unicodes.

As of today, according to Bye Bye Binary, there are 60 additional glyphs. All of them are in the Unicode Private Use Area (Unicode values in the Private Use Area can be assigned to any glyphs, and glyphs with the same codes from this area can be different in different fonts), and you can’t typeset them in your keyboard.

Any designer can join Bye Bye Binary — all they need to do is to read the instructions on the website, make any open source (or their own) font inclusive and send a font file to the project’s email.

20 Inclusive fonts from ByeByeBinary repository

10 Inclusive ligatures example. Set in Baskervvol


Suiss students of Chinese origin Shuhui Shi and Weijie Wang point out that Chinese type designers (unlike European and American designers) are reluctant to create small independent foundries or become freelance individuals. The reason is that a Chinese extension includes at least 6,760 commonly used glyphs — it takes a year (even for a big team) to design a typeface like this.

This fact is why Shi and Wang initiated developing an artificial intelligence that might help optimise the process of designing Hanzi characters. They put together a database of over 90,000 of hieroglyph components and are currently training the algorithm — it now can generate 50 glyphs based on 13 hieroglyphs and turn 50 into 6,760 after an adjustment done by a type designer.

You can download Shi and Wang’s database on their research webpage and use it either for training AI or doing your own type projects.