Typeface Design

Lotus seeks to integrate Vietnamese language and culture into an economical and functional typeface, through constructing design elements that tolerate dense tracking and reflects modern Vietnamese architecture. The angled serifs took inspirations from the One Pillar Pagoda, a much older establishment in Hanoi. The blend between the old and the new emulate a steady yet gentle flow of time and spirit of Vietnam.


Researching  /  Designing  /  Printing



May - June 2018


Design Research  / Typeface Design  /  Design Thinking  /  Print Design


Photoshop  /  Illustrator  /  Glyph

Initial Research

I sought out to create a generalist serif typeface that is inspired by both traditional and modern Vietnamese architecture. Specifically, Lotus takes inspiration from the thousand years old One Pillar Pagoda with its curved roofs as well as the tall, thin and tightly fit architecture commonly found in Vietnam. The name Lotus pays homage to Vietnam's national flower, the lotus flower.


Lotus' character set uses the Latin alphabet with various design features to reach its tight letter spacing tolerance. Features such as a taller x-height, gently compressed character width, short ascender / descender lengths, and open counters. These design choices not only make the typeface more tolerable for dense tracking but also increase its legibility and its appeared size. The design decisions come from research into various scholarly papers, newspapers, and typefaces with similar purposes like Bell Centennial and Gulliver. Rotis, a semi-serif typeface, is another inspiration of Lotus for its combination of serif and sans-serif elements.

Type Breakdown

As mentioned before, the typeface takes inspiration from the traditional and modern architecture widely found in Vietnam. While the serif of Lotus reflects ancient monastery's rooftops, the medium weight contrast, tall x-height and tight tracking samples the typical thin and tall residential buildings. These typographic elements worked together to optimize the viewers' reading speed.


The height of the letter f is at cap-height instead of the ascender line to fit perfectly below the serif of letters h, l, and b. At this height, the letter f can also form ligature easily with letters like i and t which are taller than the x-height. These two adjustments help the typeface to tolerate close letter spacing.


Lastly, the typeface uses middlingly open counters to reduce the darkness on text paragraph in a smaller size, which lessens the strains on the readers. In essence,  Lotus mirrors the nature of Vietnamese culture and architecture, a combination of the old and the new.


Final Product

The final product resulted in a generalist serif with the typographic elements mentioned above. While I am happy with the result, I hope to create additional diacritics with Vietnamese tones in the future for a complete typeface compatible for Vietnamese and English.