Xavier Dupré's new website, including Khmer samples

Jongseong's picture

Type designer Xavier Dupré, whose new FF Yoga was recently the featured face on Typophile, has a new website, http://www.xavierdupre.com.

There are some examples of early versions of his designs in a section called Design Steps, which offer some glipses into his creative process.

Even more fascinating, for me, are the samples of two of his typefaces for the Khmer script used in Cambodia, SIPAR Apsara and CKS Chrieng. I don't read Khmer and can't judge them as a native reader would, but they appear beautiful. I knew Xavier had designed some non-Latin typefaces while living in Southeast Asia, but I had not seen any samples until now.

kosal's picture

I'm Khmer, and I'm familiar with the alphabet. I can tell you that in general, Khmer lettering is beautiful. Although I can only "read" it by sounding out the few letters I know, I've seen it enough to know that Xavier's examples are transparent enough to not appear odd.

In text, the forms are usually monoweight. I've seen that most examples of display lettering where horizontals are thick and verticals are thin. I've always wondered how it came to be.


You can see next to the prices where the weights are standard from a western perspective.
But everything else there has the weights opposite.

Jongseong's picture

Interesting. I lived in Thailand for a few years and more familiar with Thai typefaces. The Thai script, of course, derives from that of Khmer and the similarities are obvious.

In Thai, designs where the horizontals are thicker than the verticals are very rare even for display lettering. Thai text faces usually are monoline or have slightly thicker verticals (which seems to have been due to Western influence), and display faces that have heavy contrast usually stress the verticals.

hrant's picture

Xavier's work is all very pretty.

> I've seen it enough to know that Xavier's examples
> are transparent enough to not appear odd.

This is interesting, and believable. A non-native having a good feeling of whether something has gone too far however would not be.

> I've seen that most examples of display lettering where horizontals
> are thick and verticals are thin. I've always wondered how it came to be.

Maybe the influence of Devanagari.

Whether horizontal or vertical, to me this particular typo-cultural importation ("stroke" contrast) is generally beneficial.

hhp

Bendy's picture

I find both scripts very beautiful. It seems Jongseong is right in saying that 'reversed' contrast is very rare in Thai. I thought the more calligraphic styles of lettering exhibited reversed contrast, but perhaps not so much.

My example shows Thai lettering that seems to have some Khmer characteristics (extra spurs and curved finials) but yet not quite reversed contrast. Dor dek (ด) and pho sampao (ภ) have unusually heavy arches, and hor heep (ห) looks decidedly like a digraph to my Western eyes (in the same way as does Khmer qa (អ)).

riccard0's picture

Blackletter Thai?

xa's picture

Thank you Jongseong for your interest on my work.
There are 2 different writings in Khmer, "Chrieng" for text (but we can use it for display as well) and Mool (Mula) widely used in sign shops like featured above by Kosal.
We could do the comparison with our uppercases and lowercases (some have a similar design like 'Cc' and some very different like 'Aa') but these 2 writings work separetly, we can not mix them on a same word.
Those I designed are Chrieng, I didn't design Mool but I hope one day to design an old version of Mool used for holy texts, wich is different than the Mool for sign shops.
Initially, khmer writings (idem for other asian writings) were carved on latania leaves or stones, so the glyphes were monolines. In contemporary and advertising use, the Mool is calligraphied with a square brush and we have thick horizontals & thin verticals, this is a visual writing like our mecanes or fat didones on the XIXth c.

>> I've seen that most examples of display lettering where horizontals
>> are thick and verticals are thin. I've always wondered how it came to be.

> Maybe the influence of Devanagari.

For Thai or Khmer, influence is probably more from Southern India like Tamil and Malayalam. To have thick horizontals & thin verticals, we need a nib beveled in the other sense, opposite our western nibs for latin calligraphy.

And yes Ricard0, it really looks like Blackletters!

BTW, I updated the unpublished works

xd

Jongseong's picture

Merci pour ce message Xavier !

Yes, I hope you get around to designing a Mul for religious texts some day, too. I always want to see new typeface designs suited for classic typography in all the different écritures around the world.

Looking for more information about the Khmer script, I stumbled across this blog: http://khmertype.blogspot.com/. I can't read it, but there's a fair bit of illustrations.

Bendy's picture

There are some real gems in the unpublished works. I'm a real fan of those Carolingian uncials.

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