GUNMAD — OR TYPE — Interview

GUNMAD & Or Type, Reykjavík / London based design studio and online type foundry founded by Mads Freund Brunse and Guðmundur Úlfarsson.

Hello Mads Freund Brunse and Guðmundur Úlfarsson. How are you?

We’re very good thanks. Busy these days working with various people on a few design projects and a lot new typefaces.

Can you introduce yourselves? Where did you meet?

We met in 2005 at an art school in Denmark called Krabbesholm, it’s a folk high school, quite a Danish concept, some sort of mix between a free university and a boarding school. This is where we met and where we started working together.

How did you come to start up the studio and the type foundry?

We never really sat down one day and decided to start a studio, it happened quite naturally. After our time at Krabbesholm, Mads went on to study at ECAL in Lausanne and Guðmundur at the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, but we kept on working together. The first applied project we did together was probably a book project for Krabbesholm actually, around 2007. That sparked our interest in keeping on working together, and then we’ve just never stopped. The type foundry came as a side project when we thought we had designed enough type to start distributing them. It has now taken over a large chunk of our time but we’re very happy with how it has developed.

Where does your interest in graphic and type design come from?

It has always been something quite passionate for us. From being fascinated by graphics within sports and redrawing tour de France jerseys as kids, to being into skateboarding and the visual culture around it, further to watching MTV and designing the school’s newspaper and websites. Those sorts of things. I guess it’s something about being fascinated with these small details, which surrounds us in our everyday life that nobody notices.

What are the key features of your design?

Rethinking values and ideas in order to create a new context for things. In typography it’s very much about adding a loose and freer approach to drawing letters. Somehow trying to go back in time with the tools of today you could say.

Can you tell us more about the Separat typeface?

Separat is based on the simple concept of separating letters where they can be separated, without disconnecting them. Whether they are symmetric or not these separations give character and lead a new way of construction uppercase letters.

What’s interesting in using your own typefaces on a graphic design project?

It’s all about a holistic approach. The way we conceive our typefaces is based on the same values as when we work on graphic design projects. They both go hand-in-hand and help each other to create the most interesting and unexpected solutions.

Can you tell us more of how you work together?

We don’t live and work in the same countries so we draw a lot of use of the Internet. Interestingly enough we get most of our ideas from talking to each other, design is often created through dialogue and later it’s about developing the visual side to accommodate those ideas or to turn them around and rethink them.

A designer that you admire?

It’s very difficult to name just one, there are so many great designers. From Jan van Toorn to Paul Rand, for different qualities. Designers with strong concept and the ability to create very different visual output, which is quite fascinating.

Do you have a favorite typeface?

It used to be Univers, but now it’s L15 (one of our own, unreleased as we speak). A nice versatile typeface with subtle character.

Which books are on your bedside table?

M — “Come On In My Kitchen – Live at Robert Johnson” a book about the legendary Offenbach club.
G — I’ve been reading “Invincible Monsters” by Chuck Palahniuk for quite a long time now. Hope I’ll have time to finish it soon.

And then there’s Instagram…

The last word…

Run, Ran, Run




Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Bähler — 08.15

Images ©GUNMAD, photo portrait ©Hörður Ásbjörnsson.