Kazimir & Kazimir Text
Yury Ostromentsky: The idea of Kazimir first came to my mind when I came across the book by Pyotr Nikolayevich Polevoy ‘The History of Russian Literature From the Ancient Times to Our Days’ issued by the publishing house of A.F. Marx, the pre-revolutionary book from the family library of my wife Dasha. We started exploring this book and immediately saw that it was a remarkable example of typography of the late 19th- early 20th centuries. Back then, Russian typefaces were full of various weird details — probably because they were copied from European typefaces. For example, the letter у was very similar to Y; ф had ‘swallow wings’; the letter widths continuously changed: the very same ф, or ш and щ, which have lots of elements, for some reason were very narrow, while the simple (compared to them) о — vice versa, was wide.
Pretty soon we realised that, even though we have seen all this million times, such typefaces are impossible to find right now. For some reason, there is simply none. And we started from there. We thought that it’s not that this typeface should be revived, but that there is a need to speak out on this subject again, — particularly as modern technology allows for way more preciseness in approaching those tiny weird and even ridiculous elements. And we took it on.
That is how Kazimir was born. Of course, in order not to shock our users, we decided not to use all those odd details in the main set of our typeface, but used the opportunity offered by OpenType format that let us design alternate sets — for example, several options for the letter А, or several options for the letter Ж. We created two stylistic sets: if you care simply about using a typeface as a tool, you choose the default version, but if you care for weirdness — you pick the second, regular set, or just borrow elements from it. We kept the key features from the Polevoy typeface — contrast, feeling, rhythm, intonation.
Ilya Ruderman: The arrival of Kazimir coincided with the launch of CSTM Fonts, so it became our first typeface designed specifically for sale. When we reflected on what our first project should be like, we looked at the market and realised that there is quite a lot of lacunae when it comes to Cyrillic palette. And this niche seemed to us the most interesting and relevant.
We started from the family which is now called just Kazimir, focused only on large and medium, display sizes. We released our typeface on MyFonts platform, and it immediately caught on. We saw lots of positive feedback, people began buying and using it. One of our first important customers were Bookmate and its art director Maxim Balabin. He suggested that it would be nice for Kazimir to introduce a relevant family for setting text.
We had barely finished designing the display Kazimir and almost immediately embarked on the text Kazimir for which we slightly reduced contrast and calmed inner dynamics a little bit, subjecting it to horizontal movement, more appropriate for long reading. And this variant — it appeared a year later — was liked by even more media. The RBK, for example, has been using it basically since its release, and in general it is widely used as an Internet text typeface. Bookmate made it their default typeface — that is, if you don’t change the font in their app, you will read your books set in Kazimir Text.
YuO: I think this success can be explained by accurately targeting the need. The thing is that Kazimir is not a stylisation, but rather a translation of fin-de-siècle aesthetics into the language of screen, language of modern technology. I believe that if the author of the typeface from Polevoy’s book created such a typeface in 2016, they would most definitely have designed it this way — simply, clearly, but with a large amount of details. In the 1880s, they had to take into account technological specifics of hot metal typesetting, add compensations for metal, ink and paper to properly work. So, eventually, it is simply a very modern typeface for modern typography.