Ilya Ruderman: In 2018 we were approached by a chain of convenience stores called Pyaterochka. Its art director, Alina Smolina, was faced with an entire set of communication tasks. First off, the chain needed a typeface for serious stuff — let’s say, corporate news releases. Secondly, they needed a typeface for their loyalty programme — promo offers, points for purchases, discounts — where one needs to speak with a customer less formally. Thirdly, a typeface for children’s club and other additional formats. And it was clear that we needed slightly different voices.
Yury Ostromentsky: Plus internal communications. Pyaterochka is a huge company with stores all over the country. They have catalogues, webpages, sub-brands, even their own football clubs. We don’t get to see a considerable part of what is happening in Pyaterochka.
IR: Earlier, the main typeface at Pyaterochka was Futura, which is why we were asked to design a renewed, more modern and more typographically elaborate Futura. The thing is that geometric sans serif typefaces represent everything that mass market perceives as friendliness, customer-focused-ness. They are round, simple, popular. I guess you could say that we live in the age of geometric sans. So, our options were quite accurately limited.
And we started to convince our client to introduce into Futura’s palette additional tones, certain new variations of near-geometrical structures. A style that looks like a handwritten script, a style that looks like stencil. Anything you can come up with, all while preserving the feeling of geometricity and simplicity, yet changing designs, introducing a slightly different voice. Eventually, we designed a small family with several additional stylistic sets, which, for example, one minute let the brand speak a bit friendlier, while the next minute letting it shift to a technical language of stencil.
YuO: Stencil typefaces were supposed to be used at warehouses: huge figures, huge letters.
IR: We see this family as a big system and don’t perceive its styles as separate entities. And that is a very rich design system offering to designers a wide range of tools for achieving very different goals, from designing retail spaces to press releases, from large navigation to children’s playroom.