Kimya Gandhi is a type designer from Mumbai, currently based in Berlin who specialises in Indic type design. Drawing inspiration from India’s rich and diverse visual landscape, the designer hopes to create new and innovative designs for Indic scripts. A fan of cooking, plants and the colour black, Kimya teaches and conducts workshops on typography and type design at various design institutes when not drawing typefaces.
The artist is known for designing Devanagari typefaces. In 2021, she collaborated with David Jonathan Ross, the creator of the punchy typeface, 'Fit'. Having been a fan of his work, Kimya was excited for this opportunity and spent a lot of time with David moulding Devanagari into the Fit typeface. After playing with existing shapes of letters in old books, type specimens and old movie posters as part of the process, the result was a highly expressive typeface with a diverse font family.
(A typeface is a design of text like Helvetica or Impact and fonts are sort of the sub-designs that vary in size and width like Helvetica Light or Impact Italic but they are often used interchangeably).
David describes it as "an extension of the original Fit typeface. This Indic companion has taken Fit’s strict rules of construction, flipped some around, and translated others into a new design that is simultaneously ‘fitting’ of the Fit name, but also true to the history and expectation for Devanagari letterforms. The family goes to extremes that have little precedent in the Devanagari script. Its ten weights start at an impossibly narrow Skyline style, and then balloon up an average of 3600% per character to reach the gargantuan Ultra Extended style."
Kimya has been working at Mota Italic Type Foundry as a partner with her husband Rob Keller, a typeface designer originally from Illinois since 2014. The type design studio specialises in original custom and retail font families for print and screen. Kimya has created multiple fonts rooted in the Indian cultural and visual landscape like 'PuLa' a custom handwritten font celebrating the legendary Marathi writer Purushottam Laxman Deshpande popularly known by his initials Pu. La. and 'Chikki' named after the hard, crunchy Indian sweet which the artist suggests perfectly represents the "crispiness" of the typeface.
India may be a land of diverse languages and scripts, each with their own unique calligraphic traditions, but many of these scripts are neglected or overlooked in the world of typography, with limited options available for designers and typographers because they're not digitised. Typeface artists like Kimya are not only preserving the distinct visual identity of our country but are also bringing attention to the rich cultural heritage of Indian calligraphy and typography. By blending traditional calligraphic techniques with modern design sensibilities, the artist is creating a new style of Indian typography that is innovative yet rooted in tradition.