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Storyteller Kyuhyung Cho

The young Korean designer shows us how he transforms the written word into a rich visual story.

Storyteller Kyuhyung Cho


June 21st, 2012

At Spazio Rossana Orlandi in Milan, designer Kyuhyung Cho offered us a fresh new perspective on the written word. Using 4 pictorial fonts that he had created, the 37-year-old showed us how songs, letters and all forms of text could transform into mysterious, colourful symbols that in turn, were able to tell a new visual story.

Thus intrigued, we caught up with Kyuhyung after the furor of Milan Design Week had somewhat subsided for a quick chat.

Kyuhyung Cho

Garden Regular Font

How did you come to develop these fonts?

[While doing] my master’s degree [at Konstfack in Sweden], I was trying to diversify the forms of collaboration. I invited unwitting collaborators in the process, which seems strange first. [An] unwitting collaborator refers to one who [is] working with me but has no intention [to]. It could be nature or social laws and customs.

As a part of this practice, I was interested in the order of letters in text. In order to keep the meaning of text, text should keep a certain order of alphabet. One day, I wanted the order of letters in text in my project as a new unwitting collaborator. So I offered the text my unreadable fonts to make unexpected but beautiful images.

Kyuhyung Cho

Pippi Longstocking lyrics typed in Creatures Italic Font

What are some the mediums that these fonts can be applied to? 

[The fonts] can be applied to anything, on furniture, glass, [even] tattoo. It depends on where you want to keep your story.

In each of my experiments, the aim is to bring the text closer to a person’s everyday life.

I made a blanket for a kid with her favourite song, and for a writer, a scarf with her novel printed on it. I also did a special wallpaper for a woman with her last love letter from her husband.

I am [also] going to apply the pattern based on our story in our everyday goods like furniture, fashion and dishes.

Kyuhyung Cho

A Love Letter typed in Garden Regular Font

Kyuhyung Cho

Lea Ahmed Jussilaninen and with her love letter

Have there been any unusual requests?

I got asked to make a print for Ivar Björkman, the former president of Konstfack. Konstfack gave me a letter to ascribe the honour to him. I then typed the letter with one of my fonts, Garden Regular, and screen-printed it. The prints itself is not only beautiful like his life at Konstfack but also meaningful, containing all our appreciation.

Kyuhyung Cho

A Love Letter typed in Garden Regular Font

Kyuhyung Cho

Barbara Voors wearing her novel

Were there any unexpected challenges or surprising outcomes resulting from this project?

 At first, I just wanted to do collaboration with the order of letters. I didn’t expect to make a strong connection between human and product through our own stories. That is why I love to do self-initiated projects [that are open-ended], besides commercial design.

Kyuhyung Cho

Geometry Regular Font

What else is keeping you busy right now?

  My dream is to do design for a long time [and] it is very important for me not to lose interest in design. So I will broaden my limits and challenge [myself] in new fields.

I am making a chair with a Japanese designer. It is so nice because there are lots of ‘first things’ I have never done.

Who knows? I may work in Singapore several years [down the road].

We have a request. Can you please write Indesignlive Singapore in your pictorial fonts?

Here’s Indesignlive Singapore in Creatures Regular.

Kyuhyung Cho

Thanks Kyuhyung!

Top image: Isis Backstrom covered by her favourite song, Pippi Longstocking

Kyuhyung Cho 

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