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Between™

By Monotype

Akira Kobayashi
Monotype

A refreshing twist on humanist and rounded san serif designs, the Between™ typeface family offers a blend of three distinct flavors - ranging from technical and modern, to crisp and highly legible, to lively and handwritten.

The Between typeface was a long time in the making, and can be traced back to initial sketches made by Akira Kobayashi in the 1990's. Inspired by his previous successful designs, Kobayashi set out to develop a DIN-like sans serif typeface - but with a friendlier temperament. He saw that many corporations around the world were using rounded or humanist sans serif styles over the traditional Helvetica® typeface. Kobayashi's goal was to make his design approachable, with a blend of coolness and warmth.

The Between typeface was a long time in the making, and can be traced back to initial sketches made by Akira Kobayashi in the 1990’s. Inspired by his previous successful designs, Kobayashi set out to develop a DIN-like sans serif typeface – but with a friendlier temperament. He saw that many corporations around the world were using rounded or humanist sans serif styles over the traditional Helvetica® typeface. Kobayashi’s goal was to make his design approachable, with a blend of coolness and warmth.

The development of the design began in earnest in 2013, when Kobayashi shared some of his renderings with colleagues. They agreed that his designs should be combined into a single typeface family with three different, yet complementary suites of designs. Kobayashi knew that such a typeface family would offer communication designers flexibility through the mixing and matching of the individual faces – moving “between” them, for the greatest impact. And so the Between typeface was born.

While Kobayashi wasn’t able to make all the characters width compatible as he originally hoped, there are many commonalities among the different versions. Some of the same letters can be found in Between 1 and Between 2, as well as Between 2 and Between 3; demonstrating that the styles are related, and yet different enough to elicit separate and distinct reactions from readers. “It’s the voice of the same person in three different moods,” explains Kobayashi.

With an extensive background in Japanese typeface design and a deep understanding of calligraphy, type director Kobayashi has three decades of experience. In that time he's also collaborated with the likes of Adrian Frutiger and Hermann Zapf.

After studying at Musashino Art University in Tokyo for four years, Kobayashi accepted his first job at phototypesetting manufacturer Sha-Ken, where he was involved in the lengthy and intricate process of designing Japanese typefaces. After leaving this role, he studied calligraphy at the London College of Printing, then worked as a freelance type designer and a type director. In 2002 Kobayashi released Optima® Nova – a modernization of Hermann Zapf's Optima design – and in 2009 he partnered with Adrian Frutiger to update his eponymous typeface family. More recently, Kobayashi has designed a branding typeface for Sony®, which covers 93 languages and a demanding range of uses.

The Between family has 48 typefaces: each of the three styles having eight roman weights with complementary italic designs. It all started with the one in the middle. Between 2 strikes a balance between crisp and highly legible on one hand and organic and friendly on the other. Between 1 has a more toward a technical and modern mien, while Between 3 has an animated, hand-drawn appearance. All three designs share the same cap and x-height – in addition to many letterforms. Certain characters, however, make all the difference. Extract the e’s and the g’s, for example, and it’s easy to see the key design elements.

“In Between 1, I tried to synthesis two sans serif styles, industrial and humanistic,” explains Kobayashi. “The DIN typeface has been very popular for more than a decade, but it’s not always the best choice for body copy. That's where my design for Between 1 started. I wanted the overall impression to be structured and robust, which is why the letters like the O looks rather squarish.”

“Between 2 was based on the idea of san serif version of my Cosmiqua® typeface” he continues, “a typeface with natural-looking letterforms. I drew Between 3 as a freestyle san serif with the integration of a lighthearted handwritten quality.”

Even though the Between typeface has three distinct states of being, each design has the ability to move fluidly between the others. They can be used interchangeably to create flexible design systems and hierarchy. Individual letters can even be swapped in a word for subtle differences within a headline or logo. Or an editorial project could use Between 3 for a headline to attract the reader with approachability, while body copy could be set in Between 2, which is less playful and easier to read. The three styles have common stroke thicknesses; enabling designers to mix variations with confidence. They also remove the limitation of using a single style, creating dynamic and creative design solutions.

ITC Berkeley Oldstyle™, ITC Charter®, Frutiger® Serif, ITC Legacy® Serif, and Quitador™.

Sans Serif
Grotesque Sans