Mihuri is a book text typeface intended for typesetting multilingual publications. Covering Latin, Hebrew, and Ethiopic, each script retains its own structure while matching the on-page texture of the others. Inspired by the high-contrast modulation of Ethiopic broad-nib calligraphy, Mihuri explores what happens when the expansion contrast model is applied to letterforms based on broad-nib construction.
The result is a subtly charismatic typeface that balances calligraphic gesture with typographic forms. Though designed for text sizes, setting Mihuri in larger sizes reveals unusual details that make it interesting enough to be used for display text.
Variable font playground
Geneviève Cugnart is a French-American graphic designer. Born in the United States, she studied graphic design at L’École de Design Nantes-Atlantique before coming to Reading. Her lifelong interest in letterforms led her to practice calligraphy as a child, which eventually introduced her to type design, a career she hopes to one day be able to pursue full-time.
Q: How did designing multiple scripts at the same time within one project influence your workflow and/or design thinking?
A: When I started this project I was very cautious about letting the Latin influence the Ethiopic and Hebrew character shapes. The starting point for the typeface was actually the Ethiopic writing system. I was looking at a lot of Ge’ez manuscripts and analysing the construction of the characters to get a feel for the essence of the script. At the same time, I noticed that the majority of Ethiopic typefaces are heavily based on traditional calligraphic models. I wondered what a more ‘typographic’ Ethiopic font would look like. That question led me to design around the concept of rationalised, typographic forms based on calligraphic construction. This informed my approach to the Latin and Hebrew. I found myself making decisions about the Latin letterforms in relation to the characteristics of Hebrew and Ethiopic. However, transitioning between designing the different scripts could be challenging; I sometimes got into a comfortable rhythm in one script, making it hard to set it aside to work on the others!
Q: Aside from producing new typefaces, what are some other ways in which you hope to contribute to type design and the wider design community?
A: I am still asking myself that question. I think it is important to give back to the community; it would be a mistake for me (though an easy one to make) to retreat into my own little corner of the world and produce typefaces in isolation. But at the same time, I hardly consider myself to be an expert in the field, so I am unsure of how useful my contributions could be. This is a relatively insular profession. Resources on type design can be difficult to find and expensive to purchase; I think this makes it difficult for many people to learn more about the field without committing a significant amount of time and money. I think perhaps the way in which I can be most useful is to share some of what I have learned with young graphic designers who may not have a strong background in typography. If my undergraduate experience taught me anything, it was that many graphic designers leave school with only a rudimentary understanding of typographic principles. If I can point people in the direction of resources and information that can help them develop better skills and a greater appreciation of typography, then I think it is my responsibility to do so.
Q: Were you inspired by any particular writing tool or typographic style?
A: Mihuri was born from a desire to translate the gestures of broad-nib calligraphy into a more rationalised expansion-based contrast model. Because all three scripts for which I was designing were in large part shaped by the broad-nib influence, I thought it would be interesting to try to keep the spirit of that without letting the pen completely define the character shapes. For the Ethiopic, I was mainly looking at the Gwelh administrative hand with its characteristic vertical stress and high contrast. In order to better match the Ethiopic I was developing, the Latin referenced transitional serif typefaces and Scotch Roman faces, as well as the calligraphy of Poggio Bracciolini and Nicolas Jarry. For Hebrew, I looked at Ashkenazi manuscripts and the Hebrew types of Guillaume Le Bé.
And that’s a wrap! It’s been a pleasure to share the MATD19/20 final projects with you. We would like to send a big thank you to everyone who made this possible: Gerry, Fiona, Fred, Victor, Ewan, Borna, Vaibhav, Cheng, Bianca, Laurence, Frank and all the other lecturers for their time and feedback. Shoutout to coop, Park House, the coffee machine and the farmer’s market.
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