A clean, neat and slick portfolio of work is what you can expect from ECAL’s type design master’s student Kaj Lehmann. With projects ranging from custom letterings to visual identities, Kaj has accumulated a huge amount of experience under his belt over the past five years. “I remember seeing posters of Lukas Zimmermann posted across Zurich. They left a strong impression on me. These posters were what motivated me to experiment with tools other than the computer. It was probably these experiments that got me into art school,” Kaj tells It’s Nice That.
Kaj’s trained type-tuned eye is exemplified in the designer’s reinterpretation of a 100-year-old typeface. “I found a charming print of the ATF Century Old Style, a popular font designed by Morris Fuller Benton between 1908 and 1909. It is considered a revival of Alexander Phemister’s Old Style from the 1860s,” Kaj explains. Reimagining the established font was originally Kaj’s side project but, after showing it to two of his teachers in Lausanne, he felt encouraged to further pursue his endeavour. The result is a considered publication of clearly and carefully presented letterings.
The journal is straightforward and easy to navigate: long columns of text give an overview of the font’s appearance in use while individual large-scale letters span whole pages to offer a more detailed look at the typeface. “During the drawing process I got interested in using plain circles for the terminals so I exaggerated these parts. You don’t really notice it when it’s small, but once magnified, the simple construction becomes very visible and changes the typeface’s flavour. I’m handing it out to friends for their projects at the moment as a testing-tool to see how I can develop it further.”
Another impressive venture is Kaj’s research-based project Spektra, a publication that came about when Kaj — with support from his partner Dorothee Dähler — started exploring how light can affect our perception of objects. “As part of our research we looked at open-ended questions like what light really is and visited a colour-manufacturer here in Switzerland. But they wouldn’t produce colours in small quantities,” Kaj explains. The duo consequently managed to track down a small Chinese company that produced a wider range of experimental colours. “We were intrigued by one product: Offset-Color, which is transparent in the normal light-spectrum (380–450 nm) but shines bright in the UV-Spectrum (380–300nm). These colours are usually used for security prints. We were lucky that a local offset printer was willing to try them.” The offset printer paid off. Spektra’s strength lies in the satisfyingly bold colour combinations, made clearer by plain, grey backdrops.
“We wanted to create a tool that could be used by other designers. The 16-page booklet is printed using eight colours (CMYK + four UV colours). It show how the UV colours behave in pure, mixed and overprinted states. Visually we referenced test-print sheets that printers use to calibrate their machines as well as shapes and images from light theory textbooks.”