Back Story: MD Maya came into existence as part of the branding for Munich’s Panama Plus music and arts festival this year. Panama Plus aims to create a utopian atmosphere where visitors looking for an alternative experience can forget day-to-day reality. “We wanted to create a font that would embody this mentality and evoke a hidden civilization,” says Maximilian Heitsch, a Moby Digg co-founder. “The typographic symbols form a set of signs, and could also be used as the silhouette of a building or a mark in a cave. The font was used for the complete visual identity of the festival, including flyers, banners, posters, and advertisements.”
Why’s it called MD Maya? The name Maya refers to the ancient civilization of indigenous people who have continuously inhabited the lands of today’s Yucatán Peninsula, from southern Mexico through Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras in Central America. In keeping with the theme of the Panama Plus festival, the typeface designers wanted to create a font that would encourage exploration and curiosity by evoking a centuries-old culture in a modernized way.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Most of the characters have several alternative styles, and the sheer number of available glyphs is great if you want to play around and create imagery with type. “The abstracted forms and lines can be used to build illustrative type or visuals,” Heitsch says. “We used it to make imaginary landscapes and humanoid buildings.” The letterforms and their alternates have a mysterious aura, like runes or hieroglyphics, and feel almost like pictograms instead of individual characters; their severe combinations of round geometric shapes and sharp straight lines seem to speak an alien, futuristic language all their own.
What should I use it for? This display font fits easily into situations where you want the type to lend an illustrative quality, and where instant legibility is not the first consideration. The odd shapes of the letters require a reader to slow down and puzzle things out a bit.
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? “As the font is quite extroverted, we would use it in combination with subtle, clean fonts,” the Moby Digg team advises. You might want to try it with Union by Radim Peško, Favorit by Dinamo Typefaces or Genath by Optimo.