The Bye Bye Binary collective are reimagining type design with post-binary language

This design network’s open-source type library exclusively presents inclusive, non-binary and post-binary fonts under construction.

6 June 2024

“Type is one of the first language interfaces. It shapes thought and transmits information, sensations and emotions. It is therefore essential to take hold of,” says the Bye Bye Binary network, a French-Belgian collective working at the intersection of type design and post-binary research and writing. Described by its members as a growing “educational experiment, a community, a variable typographic design workshop, a network, and an alliance”, Bye Bye Binary is made up of a range of multidisciplinary practitioners based across Brussels, Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Saint-Etienne.

All crossing paths over their interest in graphic design, the collective formed in 2018 as a result of a joint workshop of the typography classes at the École de Recherche Graphique and La Cambre in Brussels, where members set out to explore new typographic forms that challenged and adapted the French language. Arriving on the collective aim to create post-binary typography that “brings queer people closer to a sense of belonging and security”, one of the community’s main pursuits has been the development of Typothéque Bye Bye Binary: a free font library that exclusively collects “inclusive, non-binary, post-binary fonts under construction”.


Bye Bye Binary: Typotheque Baskervvol (Copyright © Bye Bye Binary, 2022)

So what exactly is a post-binary font? And how is one constructed? Using inclusive and non-binary language as a “ground for experimentation and research”, the collective goes about designing bespoke glyphs, ligatures, links and meeting points between letterforms to render the otherwise gendered words of the French language, gender neutral. Amongst the collection of fonts, the collective has reworked the classic typeface Baskerville in order to create their inclusive BBB Baskerville. Developing a new typographic pathway from an existing font that has been “collectively augmented with inclusive glyphs”, the updated Baskerville is an intervention into a widely used typeface with “stylistic and historical authority”. Challenging the inner structures of such typefaces is one way for the collective to “introduce non-binary glyphs into the normative places where knowledge is disseminated” and create post-binary typography, they explain.

Alongside these adaptive type design projects, Bye Bye Binary gathers a range of existing fonts, already inclusive of post binary glyphs on the site as somewhat of an archive and library of these ongoing projects. Although all of these non-binary fonts are open for all to use, there are some terms and conditions that come with the library, in order for the collective to best separate their work from those with the intentions of queer washing. CUTE: Conditions d’Utilisation Typographique Engageantes, a kind of contract of use, collaboratively written by the members encourages users to analyse their position “on a scale of privileges'', and think about their use of the gathering of typefaces on the site. This measure allows the collective to fulfil their intentions for the site to encourage the use of post-binary fonts for LGBTQIA+ causes “empowering people to create a more welcoming environment in their own communities'”.

As the library continues to grow, the Bye Bye Binary Typothéque is constantly evolving, allowing for new fonts that are developed outside of the collective to be added to the site. The group tell us that they won’t be aiming for “an exhaustive list of all the inclusive fonts in existence” any time in the future, but are instead focused on “opening up typographic fields” in the great company of other type designers that are creating “new hospitable forms for as many people as possible”. Originally delving into this area of post-binary research from the lack of representation they saw on the typographic scene, they are now excited to be a part of what they think is becoming a “multi-faceted movement” and a way of thinking about typography “as a practice that can evolve in bold ways”... one ligature at a time.


Bye Bye Binary: Camille Circlude La typographie post-binaire editions B42 (Copyright © Bye Bye Binary, 2023)


Bye Bye Binary: BBB X BNM (Copyright Sophie Vela, 2021)


Bye Bye Binary: BBB Open Sans Specimen - Quentin Lamouroux, Clara Sambot, Camille Circlude (Copyright © Bye Bye Binary, 2023)


Bye Bye Binary: Clara Sambot, Eugénie Bidaut, Festival Extra (Copyright © Bye Bye Binary, Clara Sambot, Eugénie Bidaut, 2022)


Bye Bye Binary: Tristan Bartolini, Camille Circlude, Festival Extra (Copyright © Bye Bye Binary, Tristan Bartolini, Camille Circlude, 2022)


Bye Bye Binary: Léna Salabert-Triby, Barthélémy Cardonne, Festival Extra (Copyright © Bye Bye Binary, Léna Salabert-Triby, Barthélémy Cardonne, 2022)


Bye Bye Binary: Queer Rising (Copyright © Bye Bye Binary, 2022)


Bye Bye Binary (Copyright © Bye Bye Binary, 2023)

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Bye Bye Binary: Félixe Kazi-Tani, Laure Giletti, Festival Extra (Copyright © Bye Bye Binary, Félixe Kazi-Tani, Laure Giletti, 2022)

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About the Author

Ellis Tree

Ellis Tree (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a junior writer in April 2024 after graduating from Kingston School of Art with a degree in Graphic Design. Across her research, writing and visual work she has a particular interest in printmaking, self-publishing and expanded approaches to photography.

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