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NIJNTJE

a text typeface for Miffy 

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TEXT TYPEFACE FOR MIFFY 

Nijntje is the Dutch dimunitive for rabbit, as Miffy is known in the Netherlands. I designed this text typeface during a four-week summer residency in Typeface Design at the School of Visual Art’s TypeLab, under the guidance of instructors James Montalbano, Daniel Rhatigan and Tobias Frere-Jones, with guest critique by Nina Stössinger. 

I was surprised to learn that Dick Bruna, the creator of Miffy, despite being an accomplished designer, did not make a custom typeface for his beloved children's character. I was up for the task. 

My initial foray into designing the letterforms was fixated on the line quality and the overall shape of Miffy (Ms. Stössinger cracked up when she realized I had based my letter O on the bottom-heavy, egg-like shape of Miffy.)

It soon became clear that something was missing. 

Little did I know I would encounter the complex, geometric underpinnings of a deceptively simple looking bunny. It seems obvious in hindsight because Bruna was heavily influenced by the Dutch movement De Stijl. I accidentally stumbled across a diagram by Le Corbusier depicting square root golden sections on a façade when it occured to me the same geometry was occuring inside Miffy. Bruna left nothing to chance: even the position of the eyes and whiskers are placed by him at the location of intersecting lines. 

I did not want to lose the beautiful handdrawn qualities of Miffy by using rigid geometry. Instead of rectilinear strokes, I decided whereever possible to use the gentle ‘cleaving’ curves found in Miffy. Also it seems very difficult to make a typeface based on geometry without it ending up looking like Avant Garde! The resulting letterforms, if I may say, complement Bruna’s drawings quite nicely.  

Copyright © 2017 Wing-Sze Ho