Yoann Minet – Conference report – mrcrdsgn – Paris8 – 05/11/14


Type design process.
We were so lucky to be present at Yoann Minet’s conference, that we had to share his really interesting speech! Yoann’s work and research are a wonderful mix between experimentation & tradition. His great reflexion consists to question the link between the singular sign to the colour of the text, the link between tools & user, Upper case & lower case, Regular & Italic, Display & Text face, History & Today.

sign > text / text > sign
Typeface can be considered as a material with different layers:
1- the first is the sign with its own convention (structure, characteristic…), each letter is a sign.
When you start to think about the identity of a typeface, you have to make the decision of the shape, serif or not, these aspects will have an impact on the other letters. So this is one of the most important step: ESTABLISH PRINCIPLES. “Après ça roule”.
2- the second is the word, with its own silhouette (shape). Letters start to have a formal link, they depend on each other (creating their own rules & codes).
Michel Derre says: “when you design a typeface, you design word & text texture (not only letters)”
3- the final step is the text, with its colour (its optical gray).
All these steps will influence each other to create the final typeface.

designer > user / user > designer
Two projects at the Ludovic Balland atelier where typeface is the main actor.
For these projects, type design & graphic design were created at the same time. The experiences were interdependent. The font as a tool could be adapted to the graphic designer’s needs and influenced shapes of letters.
For the visual identity of the Theater Basel in Switzerland, Yoann had to create a rhythm. The composition of the poster is an analogy to the stage. The identity, using a lot of arrows, influenced the incisor forms of the letter. The support (newspaper paper) introduced ink trap. And the using of cartridge forced (for example) the dieresis on Ä to be very low. All these exchanges between user & designer make appear an original typeface.


For the visual identity of the Swiss Art Award Typeface, he draws a very recognizable identity, letters as identifiable signs. We invite you to have a look at the alternate “K”!


These two following projects include grotesque typefaces:
Work with Maquette et Mise en page for the Catalog of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Exhibition.
Collaboration with Emmanuel Labard on the typeface Stratos.
In type design, time is a big pressure. It is a time-consuming discipline. That’s one of the reason why there is frequently only one weight in Yoann’s projects.

Pasolini catalog
This project is really interesting to see how Yoann successed to create an original tool in one weight, inspired by 20’s grotesques, attractive because of their particular & awkward shapes. The book includes a lot of references and claimed for an other reading level. He decided to do a 35˚ italic (“45˚, letters are falling”). It was a way to create an optical gray really different. It was also an experience to test the limit in text typeface design.

Stratos typeface
Grotesque wood-type was chosen for their graphic force. Yoann spoke about optical correction: Geometric sans serif typeface are not perfectly geometric. With uppercases you obtain a display face, Yoann designed smaller lowercases to use this font as a text face.

Jan Tschichold
Adrian Frutiger


Lowercase > Uppercase / Uppercase > Lowercase
Regular > Italic / Italic > Regular
At this point, Yoann asked really interesting questions about couples in typographic tradition. If we have a look at the history of writing, the design of Uppercases and Lowercases could be separated because of their different origins or uses.
Same thing for the Italic. Today, most of typefaces have the couple, but at the origin it was two different families. These questions influenced one of Yoann’s personal project, the “Veljo”. He tried to design a modern typeface without looking to references (like Didot, Bodoni, Walbaum…) and decided to do a very particular Italic (difficult to describe, we invite you to go on his website). His approach try to break the traditional and strict looking of modern typeface.

History > Today / Display > Text face
It is remarkable, in the work of Yoann, to see how he tries to apply the “extravagance” of display face to the text typeface. These tests and experiences improve text face shapes and reveal how much it is difficult to play with rules of typography because of our reading habits.
At the end, Yoann demonstrated to us that creation (of typeface in this case) will never ending and how it is possible to have our own tools of our time.
Yoann obtained his diploma in 2013 at l’École Estienne Paris. Now, he is an independent Type Designer based in Paris, he works also for Production Type.

Yoann Minet: http://www.yoannminet.fr/
Mercredi Design, Paris 8: http://www.arpla.fr/canal11/
Production Type: https://www.productiontype.com/
Ludovic Balland: http://www.ludovic­balland.ch/
Maquette & Mise en page: http://www.maquetteetmiseenpage.fr/

(sketches: Diane Pellotieri)