Even if you don’t notice good typefaces, they are everywhere. And, Sarang Kulkarni has made it his mission to develop fonts across all Indian languages (many of which are multi-script) with his Mumbai-based design studio, Ek Type. In an interview, Sarang reveals how his company launched its first font, how the paradigm of Indian typography has changed over time and the problem with Indic fonts.
ELLE: When did you start Ek Type?
Sarang Kulkarni: In 2011, I collaborated with Girish Dalvi and Noopur Datye to start Ek Type, an open, collaborative platform to develop and sell fonts. We launched our website and released out first type family at Kyoorius Design Yatra, in 2013.
Modak, a font created by Ek Type
ELLE: Which are some of the most interesting fonts you’ve created so far?
SK: I have enjoyed working on Modak, a hand-sketched lettering experiment to test the unexplored possibilities of very heavy, yet legible letterforms in Devanagari, and Baloo, a Indic display type family which would be both serious and fun, casual and well planned, in a single heavy weight and multi-script.
ELLE: How do you think the paradigm of typography has changed in the last decade in India?
SK: Standardisation, software support, overall awareness and opportunities have improved. Users are now willing to abandon fonts based on old, non-standardised technology.
Modak started out as a a hand-sketched lettering experiment
ELLE: Why do you think preserving Indian typography is important?
SK: Indian typography does not need preservation, it needs upgrading. Most people in India communicate in their native languages. Statistics show that only 4% of Indians speak fluent English. We have about 7111 spoken languages, nine out of which fall under the 30 most spoken languages in the world. Across the world people type, read and communicate in their native languages, then why not in India?
ELLE: Which is your favourite font?
SK: My all-time favourite Indian font family is Mukta. I like its versatility and attention to detail.
Mukta is a versatile Indian font
ELLE: And, is there a font you don’t like?
SK: There are plenty! I won’t name any particular typeface, but Indic fonts that are designed without proper understanding of script grammar and script tradition, top the list.