Mickaël Emile on his typeface Clinker, inspired by 3D-printed concrete

“It was both relevant with our inspiration and process because it helped us to maintain some consistency between our drawings while not seeing each other,” he details of the method that took place over the pandemic. The end result is playful and technical, incorporating different variations and at least two alternative styles for each glyph. “I have a great respect for type designers,” adds Mickaël. “I don’t consider myself as one for the moment. It takes so many years of practice to perfect this art. I love to design typographic projects, but with the will of creating something different. I mean, of course, I will not create the next Helvetica. I am aiming for an approach of type design without complexities, but still by having some consciousness of the basic rules. I hope that my fonts look like no one else’s.”
Clinker beholds a certain 3D dimensional edge that means you can easily see it being used in a big branding project as well as something more experimental. It’s highly creative and versatile in that sense, just like many of the typefaces that came before it. And when asked where he hopes he’ll see the typeface in use, Mickaël says: “I would really love seeing it on a branding project for a modern and minimal furniture brand. Or more surprising, why not use the 3D version in a VR experience? It would be awesome.”
His portfolio, then, is replete with various workings and experimentations. This includes a typeface inspired by skateboarding, another by magic tricks, another by flowers and plants, and another by 3D concrete printing – the latter forming the basis of his most recent typeface Clinker, made in collaboration with Nicolas Pauthier. The pair met during an internship at a company specialising in 3D printing with concrete material, which sparked many inquisitions as to how to transfer this subject matter into a piece of typographic design. The answer rests in the sculptural approach of 3D printing, wherein the pair would develop the precision of a machine to build the final form. And that’s where the concept and modular grid for Clinker were born.
Now working on his own terms, Mickaël enjoys onboarding projects that have a distinct and obvious graphic solution, but equally, those that seem “particularly relevant” to the project at hand. He likes simplicity and efficiency: “We are not designing for us,” he notes. “We are designing for an audience, for a brand, for an institution, for others that aren’t always designers. I always try to keep that in mind.” So when approaching any given brief, not only does he bring a hefty dose of personality, he also hopes that the task at hand will have multiple constraints – he’s always up for a challenge and sees limitations as a way of helping him figure out the best direction.

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