03

StrokeWIP
A Vietnamese Typeface


A critical typeface that
celebrates Vietnamese diacritics.


Research, Type design, midnight glyphs tutorials

Context—


In type design, there are only nine marks that, when combined in different ways, separate written Vietnamese from English.

Despite this, type designers who construct Latin-script typefaces often forget Vietnamese. In response, I have begun a typeface that celebrates Vietnamese’s unique diacritics.

While there are typefaces that support Vietnamese (such as IBM Plex), they tend to be primarily utilitarian. But designers also deserve typefaces that are expressive, dynamic, and decorative, and that serve emotional as well as technical needs. This typeface, my senior thesis, is a critical one, meant to call attention to the diacritics themselves.





Inspired by expressive diacritics in sign painting, I started by reversing the designing process: create the diacritics first and model the letterforms to fit them.




The result is dynamic, sinous forms that dramatize, rather than downplay, the accented letters of Vietnamese for decorative effect.




References—


1. Donny Trương‘s Vietnamese Typography
2. Thy Hà’s ‘Up, Down, Left, Right?’
3. Le Quoc Huy’s research, including Lưu Chữ
4. FÖDA’s quarterly reader, Diacritical
5. The plastic mat in my bedroom (for color)


A Note—


An early critique of this typeface convinced Austin-based type designer Simon Walker to start including Vietnamese diacritics in all future typefaces. A small, happy bonus.