PingMag loves fonts and typography. Some of our most popular articles have involved typeface or calligraphy, particular ones which dealt with this design theme from a more unusual angle, like our 2006 feature on contemporary Iranian typography or the more recent piece we did on fun Japanese web fonts. So when we heard about Type, a new glasses range inspired by fonts, we were naturally intrigued.
Designers are very particular about fonts and it follows that they are also very particular about glasses. After all, there is an intrinsic link between glasses and typefaces. So many of us wear glasses to read and to work on screens.
Eyeglasses are said to have been invented in Italy in the thirteenth century in order to read books. Meanwhile, keyboards and types are famously tested with the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” because it has every letter in the English alphabet. What if you could turn the very things you are using to read with into a homage to the type itself?
Well, that’s what Wieden + Kennedy Tokyo set out to do.
For this first collection, the agency has adapted two fonts into a line of glasses. Yes, you did just read that right. Don’t worry — this is not as nerdy as it sounds.
Here they are, based on Garamond and Helvetica.
Helvetica is the Swiss sans-serif font that has both its detractors and evangelists. Whether you’re a fan or not, the toned-down functional minimalism really works well in this new incarnation. Garamond, on the other hand, is the old-style serif font that here, by coincidence, seems almost to resemble glasses in the serif of the lower case “g”.
Each line comes in three weights — light, regular or bold — and three colors (clear, black or tortoise).
The name of the range of glasses, “Type”, also, of course, has other connotations — the kind of personality you are, which is both reflected in what we wear and how we write.
As the concept says: “You are a character. You have a voice and a style. You’re straight or you’re odd. You’re classic or complicated or light or clunky or simple. And you are what you are and that’s good. Because that makes your type the type we like.”
The launch of Type was celebrated with a Type pop-up store at Vacant in Harajuku from Friday January 31st to Sunday February 2nd. To put the glasses into context, the pop-up also featured books and examples of packaging where you can see the two fonts being used in other areas of everyday life.
The concept for Type originated with graphic designer So Hashizume and Widen + Kennedy Tokyo’s Tota Hasegawa, who have known each other for a long time and, of course, both wear glasses.
W+D Tokyo wanted to do something creative from scratch and were by chance involved with a glasses select shop project for OhMyGlasses. And given that so many bespectacled designers were often gathering together to work, it followed that they would turn their design sensibilities towards making glasses.
At a talk during the pop-up store weekend, Hasegawa joked about how designers often talk about which font so-and-so is like based on their appearance or their business card.
Each of the two glasses “font” was handled by different eyeglasses designers (Ikuya Enomoto and Hideto Moriyama). They deliberately kept the design minimal; by adding too much “design” they would take the product too far from the original font. They also kept the size of the lenses the same but changed the thickness of the frames for the three versions.
While the more older and generic Garamond posed no rights issues, for legal reasons they needed to get a proper license to use the Helvetica name.
The Vacant pop-up store event finished on Sunday but there’s good news: “more fonts to come” promises the website. Helvetica italic? Arial? Courier? Hasegawa was unable to commit to any yet but I think we can assume it’s not going to be comic sans.
You can purchase Type glasses via OhMyGlasses.jp.