Courtesy Kimya Gandhi.

Name: Fit Devanagari
Designer: Latin: David Jonathan Ross; Devanagari: Kimya Gandhi
Foundry: DJR + Mota Italic
Release date: Latin 2017, Devanagari April 2022

Back Story: Until recently, finding a well-engineered, widely-available Devanagari typeface that also delivered a punch of personal style was an uphill battle; most of what was on the market was serviceable at best. The hyper-stylized variable letterforms of Fit Devanagari, created as companions to David Jonathan Ross’s Fit family, are the first of their kind in this language. Designed to stretch the possibilities of vernacular typography, they bring the cool to a previously sedate party.

Gandhi says, “As someone who grew up in India and studied in a conservative schooling system, I was quite a shy and conformist person. Even during the early design years, I heard the phrase ‘but this isn’t how it is done,’ and I wasn’t encouraged to ask why. When I started thinking about Fit Devanagari, the question wasn’t ‘why,’ it was ‘why not?’” As she collaborated on the alphabet with Ross, who doesn’t read Devanagari and was looking at the letterforms purely as shapes, the designers found solutions together that would have taken them far longer working as individuals. 

Why’s it called Fit Devanagari? “Fit has one thing in mind: filling up space with maximum impact. Irrespective of the word length, whatever you type will ‘fit’ into any space,” says Gandhi.

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Fit Devanagari explores the letterform weight axis on an ambitious scale. The characters grow by 3600% (on average!) from the whisper-thin Skyline style to the colossal Ultra Extended, pushing the limits of legibility but opening up space for experimentation. The font contains over 200 conjunct characters formed by the combination of two or more consonants, each conjunct requiring semantic, physical, and phonetic integrity. 

What should I use it for? This typeface is, to put it politely, not shy. While it may be unsuited for long-form reading or branding for a bank, Fit’s graphic shapes are dynamite for creating impactful posters, beer labels, book covers, and headlines.

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Let’s give the designer the final word. Gandhi says, “Fit is strikingly graphic but at the same time, radically simple. It’s a display font, but it has no ornamentation whatsoever. It matches pretty much nothing, but works with anything.”