BB Bureau, Gikit

Name: Gikit
Designer: Benoît Bodhuin
Foundry: BB Bureau
Release Date:  December 2020

Back Story: Benoît Bodhuin, founder of BB Bureau, started working on what eventually became Gikit in August last year, when he was briefed by a client to create “very raw and quirky glyphs” for a typeface. That aspect of the client project fell through in the end, and so these glyphs “took their independence,” as Bodhuin puts it. Creating Gikit was in part born of the designer’s desire to find a productive conclusion to the unfinished commission.

BB Bureau, Gikit

His intention was simply to draw “something raw, massive, with very little curve (just the dots and a few punctuation marks),” he says, “just to see where this path leads.” Although the process was a “stroll” rather than a concrete design journey, Bodhuin says that the main challenge was to balance “brutality and harmony” in order to create a sense of coherence in the set of characters. Like many of his previous font designs, Gikit is structured according to a strict grid. However, unlike any of Bodhuin’s previous work, he describes this type as being like a “sculpture,” with each character “a block from which I remove pieces to arrive at the letter.” 

Why’s it called Gikit? When Bodhuin was testing out his font, he played around by copying and pasting various letterforms, placing together letters that wouldn’t normally be seen side-by-side. At one point, the word Gikit suddenly appeared, and it stuck. 

What are its distinguishing characteristics? When used in Roman languages other than English—and in particular, in Bodhuin’s native France—it’s Gikit’s accents that really stand out. In lowercase letters, the accents crush the forms. “[The letters] have the same height as the accent itself so as not to exceed the height of the ascenders,” says Bodhuin. This intentionally disrupts the reading of the letters, especially since a few of the characters are pretty hard to identify outside of their usual contexts.

“More generally, what I like in type design is the relationship between the drawing of a letter and the rendering of the type,” says Bodhuin. “The feeling between the two is sometimes quite different. For example, in Gikit the letters are very raw, but the whole is quite playful.”

What should I use it for? This isn’t a font for anything too serious—or indeed anything that needs to be legible. While its striking forms certainly make you look, it may not work well with brands or billboards, in which messaging is key. But at larger sizes, it might be an interesting font for signage. Bodhuin suggests that Gikit’s playful aspects give it “a very funny side,” and reckons it might work for comics or posters. “My typefaces are never used for packaging,” says Bodhuin. “I can guess why,” 

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Thanks to its highly unusual, Net Art-leaning, and futuristic-yet-somehow-vaguely-retro feel, Gikit works well with classic fonts—especially those that have the twist of a contemporary redesign. Bodhuin suggests fonts along the lines of Happy Times by Matthias Hübner, Nitti by Bold Monday, Roobert de Martin Vácha, Victor by Dinamo, and Topol by Filip Matějíček and Jan Horčík.