Raphaël de la Morinerie on understanding the codes that form our visual culture
The Paris-based freelance designer tells us about his latest type design, Gaya, a soft and warm display font designed to be seen in large sizes.
- Jyni Ong
- 21 June 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Raphaël de la Morinerie comes from a family of artists, but instead of going down the fine art route, a teenage interest in graffiti sparked a fascination with letters. From there, he studied graphic design and typography during his degree in Brussels before working towards a degree in type design at ÉCAL. Currently based in Paris, where he also grew up, the freelance designer now works on a range of projects, from visual identities to books, magazines, web design and of course, type design.
While Raphaël’s design output is distinctly clean, controlled and ordered, the underpinning commonality that ties all his work together is in fact, concepts. At the core of his practice lies the relationship between type design and graphic design which he teases apart in the creative process. He tells us: “I use as much as possible in the fonts I design, it allows me to control all the elements of my layouts.” Drawing on his typographic and layout skills, he develops systems which create solutions in both the minutiae and also the overall composition. In this way, “one can appreciate the work from far and near,” the designer points out.
While some designers actively choose to stay away from visual trends, Raphaël sees it as important to understand them, and then appropriate them in certain ways. By doing this, he makes connections between different fields or eras, which then influences the aesthetic of his design. “By mixing them I can be more or less expressive in my work and summon the right emotions and forms,” he continues. That being said, Raphaël spends a lot of time delving into historical graphic archives on the hunt for visual references which feel distant from the canon today.
Using such methods, in his practice thus far Raphaël has designed lettering for the exhibition Abyssal Seeker by the artist Joey Holder, created eight typefaces to explore the the forms of so-called “text typography”, as well as many more projects. Most recently, he is launching his typeface Gaya: a soft and warm display font designed to be seen in large sizes. Interestingly, the letterforms are designed to optimise tight spacing. Raphaël explains, “stems are flared to match round shapes. The italic style is all curved, however the idea has been pushed further than the roman.” Having started the design during his diploma project, the family will soon be available in two styles including upright and italic.
The typeface came about when Raphaël began researching how the computer has influenced type design. “I noticed that the extreme sharpness that the computer allows tends to give a rather cold and aseptic look to my typefaces,” he says. In turn, he wanted to inject a warmth and expressiveness that the computer stifled; something he achieves through the typeface’s gentle counters that seem as if they melt into one another. It’s soon to be released through the digital type foundry Out Of The Dark where Philipp Herman has helped to market Gaya for the masses.
On a similar topic, when researching the arrival of the computer and how it has impacted graphic design and typography, Raphaël created Typography at the Dawn of the Digital Era. Produced for his Master’s thesis, the publication delves into typographic references from the late 80s through to the early 2000s. As well as providing a platform for some novelty designs, the thesis also marked an opportunity to meet new people, read and dig into the history of type. Raphaël finally goes on to say of this era which has vastly informed his practice to date: “It was enriching to understand the postmodern approaches that I was always advised against at school. It opens the mind to appreciate different aesthetics, always with this idea of understanding the codes that form our visual culture.”
GalleryRaphaël de la Morinerie (Copyright © Raphaël de la Morinerie, 2021)
Raphaël de la Morinerie: Thesis (Copyright © Raphaël de la Morinerie, 2021)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.