Akira Kobayashi To Receive TDC Medal

Creative Type Director at Monotype

The Type Directors Club  has announced Akira Kobayashi, creative type director at Monotype, as this year’s recipient of the prestigious TDC Medal. First awarded to Hermann Zapf in 1967, the TDC’s highest honor recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field as well as representing TDC’s collective gratitude to those who have demonstrated the value of typography in communication, community, and culture.  The list of past TDC Medalists can be viewed here.

“I was surprised to hear that I had been chosen to receive the TDC Medal, whose past recipients include my heroes in the field of type design. I am deeply honored and humbled to have my nearly 40 years of career recognized in this way,” said Kobayashi. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all my teachers and colleagues, past and present, for their guidance and encouragement, and to my parents and family for their unwavering support. Without them, I would never have achieved this honor.”

Kobayashi has three decades of experience, an extensive background in Japanese and Latin typeface design, and a deep understanding of calligraphy. After studying at Musashino Art University in Tokyo, he accepted his first job at phototypesetting manufacturer Sha-Ken Co., where he was involved in the intricate process of designing Japanese fonts. He then studied calligraphy at the London College of Printing, and later worked as a freelance type designer. Kobayashi released Optima Nova – a modernization of Hermann Zapf’s Optima design – in 2002, and seven years later partnered with fellow TDC Medalist Adrian Frutiger to update his eponymous typeface family, Neue Frutiger.  In 2017, he directed development of Tazugane Gothic, Monotype’s first original Japanese typeface. Over the course of his career, Kobayashi has designed more than 50 font families including DIN Next and Akko Pro, and worked with major brands including Sony, UBS, and Panasonic. One of his latest achievements, working closely with legendary type designer Yukihiro Nakamura, was the release of Shorai Sans earlier this year.  Designed to expand horizons within the Japanese type landscape, Shorai Sans is a companion typeface to Avenir® Next, built to work harmoniously in global designs while preserving the essence of Japanese handwriting.

“Akira is the epitome of a TDC Medalist: a person who excels in typographic design, and is passionately devoted to fostering creative excellence in the field,” said Carol Wahler, executive director, TDC.  “On behalf of the global type community, we are proud to recognize him for his exemplary accomplishments and contributions.” To honor the occasion, TDC collaborated with the design tool Readymag on The Faces Behind Typefaces, a deep-dive into the impact and legacy of the TDC Medal and past medalists. Kobayashi will be presented with the TDC Medal as part of The One Club for Creativity’s Creative Hall of Fame black-tie induction ceremony, a fundraiser to support the nonprofit organization’s global diversity and inclusion programs.  The event will take place on the evening of October 27, 2022, at Tisch Skylights at The Shed, Hudson Yards in New York.