To show how Vietnamese typesetting flows on the page, I have created a few samples ranging from story to poetry to recipe. My intention is to help designers see how typographic elements work together as a whole. Even without knowing the language, they can exam these samples to avoid collisions and awkward positions of diacritical marks in their type.
The birth of the Vietnamese people is a fascinating mystical legend. According to the mythical story, the first 100 children of Vietnam were the sons of the Dragon King Lạc Long Quân and the Fairy Princess Âu Cơ. Despite their love, the couple had their differences. As a result, Lạc Long Quân took 50 of their sons to the water and Âu Cơ took the other 50 to the land. Even today Vietnamese people are proud to refer to themselves as the descendants of the dragon and the fairy (con rồng cháu tiên). To learn more about this folktale in English, read Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson’s adaptation: “One Hundred Kings (A Legend of Ancient Vietnam). To demonstrate readability in Vietnamese, I set the body text in Garamond Premier Pro, designed by Robert Slimbach. The layout is a simple black text on white background. Take a look.
For the sample article, which is a brief commentary by Trịnh Công Sơn (the late, great songwriter) for Đinh Cường (the late, great artist), I would like to demonstrate the legibility of a sans serif typeface. The main text is set in Acumin Pro by Robert Slimbach. Even with white text on dark background, Acumin Pro is still highly legible. Take a look.
Poetry is essential to Vietnamese culture. The people (from academia to illiterate) are poetic by nature. To demonstrate Vietnamese typesetting in the literary context, allow me to introduce Cao Nguyên’s Thơ Mưa, a web-based poetry book I had designed. The text face is Cormorant Garamond and the title is set in Cormorant Upright. Both typefaces designed by Christian Thalmann. Visit the book site.
Food plays an important role in the Vietnamese culture and Vietnamese people love to cook. To showoff Vietnamese typesetting with Vietnamese food, I have created a recipe for one of my favorite Vietnamese soups: canh chua cá lóc (sour soup with snakehead fish). The main text is Minion, by Robert Slimbach. The sans serif typeface is Myriad, by Robert Slimbach, Carol Twombly, Fred Brady, and Christopher Slye. Take a look.
Dubbed as the Bob Dylan of Vietnam, Trịnh Công Sơn was a prolific songwriter who penned lyrical ballads as well as influential antiwar songs. He passed away in 2001, but his music lives on. To showcase his poetic lyrics, I selected, “Ru em từng ngón xuân nồng” (Your passionate fingers), one of his beloved ballads. The type is set in Alegreya, designed by Juan Pablo del Peral. Take a look.
In an interview with Thích Tâm Thiện, Trịnh Công Sơn talks about Buddhism in his lyrics. The Q&A is set in Alda, designed by Berton Hasebe. Take a look.
The goal for Typographically Trịnh is to highlight macrotypography in Vietnamese. My approach is simple. Each day I pick out a quote from Trịnh Công Sơn, whose philosophical lyrics always intrigued and inspired me, and create a design based on my own understanding and interpretation of his words. Take a look.
When David Jonathan Ross shared with me Fit, a new display typeface he was working on, I immediately thought of old Vietnamese vinyl records. As a result, I took old album covers and redesigned them using the new typeface. I also had the pleasure of advising David on the Vietnamese diacritics. Take a look.