Elín Edda’s “elegant reverse-contrast” typeface Kimi is named after her mother’s design studio

“My background in illustration makes me less afraid of experimenting and making mistakes in graphic design because I’m used to not knowing the final result when I’m drawing and painting,” Reykjavík-based design student Elín Edda tells It’s Nice That. “I think it allows me to be more playful and creative.”

Currently studying at Iceland University of the Arts, Elín thinks of herself “as more of an illustrator” despite undertaking a degree in graphic design and stating “typography, print design and type design” as her interests. “I grew up in a creative milieu where I was constantly encouraged to make my own things,” she explains. From a young age, she would spend all her free time drawing and writing stories which would later become zines and books, fabricated using her family’s photocopier. After dabbling in both art and design, her decision to study graphic design was solidified after she was “introduced to some really impressive student work from the department at Iceland University of the Arts.”

Since starting the course, Elín’s practice has developed into a merging of illustration and more formal design mediums. While publishing graphic novels, both on her own and alongside her sister Elísabet Rún, she also develops typefaces. Kimi is one example of this. Developed during a class at university, Elín set herself the brief of making an “elegant reverse-contrast sans-serif typeface that could be used by art galleries and museums.”

Shortly after the four-week creation process, Elín’s mother Erla Sólveig Óskarsdóttir, an industrial furniture designer, decided to open a studio in Reykjavík. Titled Kimi – which means both a small place or a niche – the studio gave Elín both a name for her typeface and a chance to implement it in the real world.

The studio took a year to renovate, as when they initially acquired the space it was “in ruins and didn’t even have a roof.” The type specimen, therefore, acts as a showcase of the typeface and a documentation of the process of reconstructing a space in ruins and starting a design studio. Looking forward, Elín hopes to develop bold and italic versions of Kimi and, for her graduation project, will combine her love of illustration and graphic design in a graphic novel titled Glingurfugl, complete with a custom typeface.

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