Minjong Kim, János Hunor Vári, Paul Sturm
IRÓN is a unique writing gear designed and created by first-year students Minjong Kim, Paul Sturm and János Hunor Vári during the 2021–22 Autumn semester, in the class Tools Make Shapes of Kai Bernau. The tool itself is built with small metallic elements from a local DIY store, and one bold bearing assembled with screws to hold two pencils or markers. The concept of IRÓN comes from what we call ‘lazy line’, when two endpoints of the writing tool are inaccurately moving together or the second axis improperly follows the path of the first one.
Reaching the final form of our tool has been a long journey with different approaches and possibilities; from a very calligraphic approach to a completely digital one. At first, we were experimenting with building a brush made of super long hair and a short handle. We were forced to realize that we needed more control on the drawing process. Then we made a large-size brush, but the limitations of this big-scale writing made it difficult to continue. For us, the big challenge was to understand the logic of ‘lazy line’, and to find the final form of a tool in order of applying its features. We had to find out how IRÓN creates curves and how it can generate interesting shapes as well as elements of letters.
With practice, we started to understand the logical of the tool. At that point we decided to work, each of us, on a different approach, from basic letterforms to experimental drawing, in order of testing the limits of our new instrument.
In the first trials, we went as experimental as possible, using the tool not as a pen, but rather as a compass to create geometrical shapes, not following a strict system. This direction differed from our early sketches, but we wanted to explore the possibilities of our tool. The second approach was to create three basic shapes, so the letters can be constructed by using only those. We tried to avoid repetitions, yet this method was quite restrictive. The third direction made use of the digital sketching tool. Our goal was to highlight the features of the two lines at their crosspoint, generating graphically interesting twists.
Testing with those three different approaches brought a lot of stimulating questions. Though, we were facing fundamental issues in terms of letter construction. Based on a hint from the third approach, we essentially built letters following calligraphic principles. The final system includes the extremely simplified shapes inherited from the characteristics of the tool.
Since our goal was not to break the movement within individual letters, their structure follows the ductus of a chancery or italic hand, traced with a broad nib pen, though it has an upright axis. While the broad nib pen has two edges that are always parallel, our tool has two edges which, at some point, cross each other, creating a characteristic break in the stems.
We finally went for a basic construction that shows essential elements of the Irón tool. From a very simple device, we were able to design and explore many graphic variations.
Minjong Kim is a type and graphic designer from Korea. After working as a graphic designer in diverse fields for several years, he found a passion in type design.
Paul Sturm is a graphic designer from Berlin with a focus on type design and typography. He recently graduated from the communication design program at HTW Berlin.
János Hunor Vári is graphic designer from Budapest, with an interest in type design and art direction.
The three of them are part of the Master Type Design at ECAL since 2021.