Kris Sowersby

The tiny Chatham Islands in the South Pacific can boast a rather unique claim to design glory. They have their own typeface, which was designed by the award-winning typographer Kris Sowersby, based 500 miles away in New Zealand.

From a cultural point of view, Sowersby's Hokotohu is one of the most interesting custom typeface creations in recent decades, particularly as it involved traditional wood-carved symbols from the islands. Almost extinct thanks to Maori and white invasions in the 19th century, the Moriori culture of the Chatham Islands is now seeing something of a revival. So New Zealand-based DNA Design was called in to use indigenous imagery, forms and colours to bring back some of that local identity, and to reposition the islands on the global scene. When it came to designing a typeface for the project, the agency called on Kris Sowersby, the man behind the Klim Type Foundry in the North Island's Wellington.

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