Responses by Jimmi Tuan, creative director/founder, Bratus Agency
Background: The main purpose of Mặt chữ, also known as The Type-Faces Project, is to establish a packaging system for coffee and cacao gifts for the Von Viet Project and Bratus Agency. Inspired by the daily coffee and cacao habits of Vietnam’s past, we looked back and reconsidered French Indochina’s designs and influences. We aimed to create a simple design for a modern audience who are always looking to learn something new about old history.
Reasoning: We decided to revive the elegance of Vietnamese typefaces in the past. The forgotten cultural heritage and the design output became a multidimensional artwork that was spread out across the packaging surface and told its own historic stories. It created this balance between the contemporary and traditional for the packaging system. Also, the packaging can be interactive for users when pairing boxes to form new typefaces.
Challenges: We had to maintain the extreme simplicity and balance of the concept design through the typeface mixed system with different sizes and types. It was important that the solution not only reflected the beauty and history of Vietnam’s lost type, but it was also contemporary and engaging to modern audiences.
Favorite details: The color of the black paper combined with silver-foiled silkscreen printing enhanced the results and created something exceptional. It’s a well-chosen color contrast. Finally, we worked hard to keep the end product looking especially simple.
Anything new: We learned so much by going on this journey back to the past to research old culture and collect the most popular and outstanding typefaces in Saigon before 1975. We were so eager to discover individual letters from the internet, documents, books, magazines, old store banners and archived resources. This primary research yielded a diverse collection of typefaces, ready for our experiments and exploration for this project and for other future projects.