Akira Kobayashi

Akira Kobayashi, born in 1960, started his career as a type designer at Sha-Ken Co., Ltd. in 1983. In 1989, he studied calligraphy and typography in London. On his return to Japan in 1990, he joined Jiyu-Kobo. From 1993 to 1997, he worked for TypeBank, where he designed a Latin alphabet to match the digital Japanese fonts of the foundry. Afterwards, he became a freelance type designer and won numerous international awards. In 2001, he moved to Germany to assume his current position as type director at Monotype GmbH. Akira Kobayashi has also collaborated with the two pre-eminent designers Adrian Frutiger and Hermann Zapf to modernise their earlier type designs. He is a frequent speaker at international type conferences and is a juror in prestigious international design competitions.

Red Dot: What mistakes do you frequently notice in typography design?
Akira Kobayashi: The meaning of the content of the written language should take precedence while typography should remain in the background. Typography only makes sense if it allows the text to express itself.

What new challenges do you believe lie ahead in the field of typography?
Type design and typography will increasingly be responsible for designing texts in different languages.

What advice would you give young designers for a successful career start?
In typography, it is always important to think of the white space around the letters or punctuation marks. Train yourself not just to focus on the black letters, but also on the white background.

Akira Kobayashi