Jens Kajus and Jonas Hecksher are an award-winning Danish design team that delights in the style and sophistication of communicating via typography. Their concept store, opened in 2010 on Værnedamsvej in Copenhagen, is a tribute to their love of letters. And numbers. And pretty much all printed matter. If you can’t make it to the store in person, visit their online store, where posters to coffee mugs to clothing—all adorned with their fabulous fonts—are available for purchase. (Hint: Here’s where you’ll find some truly unique gifts ideas.)
Playtype has created bespoke typefaces for leading Danish brands and institutions, including Georg Jensen, the Danish National Police and Carlsberg/Jacobsen. We recently asked Playtype to custom-design a new typeface for Skagen Denmark. True to form, their approach to this challenge was deeply considered: “When designing a bespoke font for Skagen Denmark, we were inspired by the older Danish typographies. We spent time in the archives and researched the works of icons such as Claus Achton Friis and Knud V. Engelhardt to create a distinctively Danish look and feel.”
We asked Kajus and Hecksher for further thoughts on Danish type design, its past and future. Here’s what they had to say:
What sets Danish typography apart?
“Typography design is a unique discipline because the object is so laden with meaning. During the last decade, typography has become tremendously globalized as designers increasingly share their work digitally. Still, Danish typefaces always stand apart, exemplifying the Danish design philosophy “form follows function.” The typefaces are often simple and based on geometric principles. There is a common search for essence and a desire to strip away the unnecessary. One distinct quality of Danish design, timelessness, is continuously embraced in the typographic endeavors of Danish designers. The pursuit of the essential function and form generates typefaces that stand the test of time.”
In designing the Skagen typeface, what did you draw on?
“Our main inspiration for the bespoke Skagen Denmark typeface came from Skagen itself: its light that has drawn so many creative minds up north: Thorvald Bindesbøll’s wooden buildings by the harbour, the hand-drawn names and numbers on the fishing boats and the undulating landscape. We searched for elements that could work as a starting point for the development of a visual language. Even the distinct shape of Grenen's hook in the ocean became a source of inspiration.”
What’s on the horizon for Danish design?
“The future of Danish graphic design lies in the hands of designers. It sounds obvious, but a wider access to a world of information means that there are many more roads to travel in search of inspiration. However, some things will remain specifically Danish. The thoughtfulness of Danish design and its pursuit of essential beauty will continue to define Danish typography in the future.”