Ilya Ruderman: In 2013, art director of Yandex Irina Voloshina was planning a further development of the Yandex brand which had also assumed such an important branding element as a bespoke typeface. Since the company was then in the process of taking over foreign markets, it was important for a typeface to be designed by world-class designers.
Ira contacted me and together we had set a specification, technical task to the US-based studio Commercial Type and personally to Christian Schwartz and Miguel Reyes. Following this, Commercial Type decided to involve me in this project as an expert on cyrillisation. So, I first acted in this story as a producer, and then also as an author of Cyrillic version.
The process took a total of two years, in part because Yandex was a rather democratic company, and we had to consider and take into account the opinion of every key design process participant — to summarise everyone’s likes and dislikes, and somehow translate those into type design language. That was pretty interesting.
Eventually, the typeface had taken its final shape by 2016. That was an open sans serif typeface Yandex Sans coming in two families, Display and Text. It was envisaged that the Text family would be used by designers in texts, and Display — in headlines, but experience has shown that Display requires a much finer work with typography, very subtle dealing with sizes and line spacing, and, in general, slightly higher skills. Eventually, all the teams apply Text — using it for both headlines and smaller texts.
Around the same time, one of next Yandex’ art directors, Ilya Mikhailov helped bring to the world Yandex Serif typeface — a serif by Christian Schwartz which is somewhat related to Yandex Sans, but not closely related, rather a second cousin. Yet we have concluded why we see a certain Yandex-ness in this typeface: as well as Yandex Sans, it is about simplicity and transparency — the values which are generally intrinsic to Yandex’ graphics and communication.
Together, these two typefaces became Yandex’ default fonts: and even though the company easily resorts to other fonts in some of their projects— such as Druk or Graphik, — most projects are served by Yandex Sans and Yandex Serif.