Ilya Ruderman: Druk typeface (the vowel is pronounced ‘a’) was conceived at Commercial Type studio by Berton Hasebe, a genius designer, graduate of TypeMedia course. I had learned about it even before I saw it: one of my Western colleagues designers answered a question about his default font by saying that first he always applied Druk in his layouts.
What is Druk’s brilliance about?
The history of sans serif typefaces began in the second half of the 19th century, and since then it accumulated lots of different stylistic discoveries. It was in large, wood-cut faces that sans type manifested itself most vividly: huge letters, circus and theatre posters, where each line is set in its own typeface.
And Berton Hasebe managed to bring into one family lots of very different typefaces in terms of their proportions. From the narrowest to extremely wide. Somehow he managed to bring into one system the most brilliant features and details from all the early sans serifs.
We see here quite a lot design solutions which are unusual for the modern world. For example, there are no light styles. None. There is no Regular. No need to have one. One might think it narrows options where to use it, because each time you apply Bold, it’s like you scream — too much black, too much letter flesh. Though, on the other hand, it brings additional boldness, audacity, courage to graphics, representing this American character.
The most popular styles of Druk are certainly its widest styles. I guess you could say that Berton with his project boosted the popularity of wide grotesques. Before that, designers treated them sceptically, because of how much space they consume. It is very difficult to make a large statement in a wide typeface, especially in Russian which has long words. But the fact is that Druk has such a charisma that you just can’t stop using it. It works great wherever you put it. It draws attention everywhere, creating a certain magic climate of a properly-made design. Whatever you do with it, it helps any project.
Yury Ostromentsky: Also, Druk has another important feature. Like many other typefaces by Commercial Type, what matters here is not only the design of a sign, not only the way its details are designed, but the design of letter spacing as well. Druk has a very carefully calculated rhythm and letter spacing. And it wins in large part due to these invisible calculations.
Working with Druk, it was a separate pleasure having this system of relationships between outlines, the quality of design and thoughtful graphic system. In some fonts, you just draw В, draw Г, draw Д. Here, however, we were dealing with a system that worked so well that it moves your hand.
IR: It is a huge family. We had to design 26 basic styles that eventually served as a base for 38 final styles. Plus the Cyrillic set was an extended one. We dived into the world of Druk for six months, just sitting and designing style after style. It is gratifying to see that today it is quite popular among Cyrillic designers.