Creative Director of Playtime Rasmus Ibfelt
The creative director of Playtype, Rasmus Ibfelt, spoke to ND in Copenhagen, about developing and expanding a design company into an interactive experience; From office to shop space - by chance. They now offer their clients a direct access to the Playtype universe, via mugs, posters, sweaters and more, all carrying the iconic Playtype font.
Tell us about the beginning of Playtype
We founded the design agency in 1997 and had at the time, been working with visual identities for different brands, always believing in the power of typography in our work. The vital part in our work, is that we design our own typefaces and we really wanted to make all of them available to other creative around the world. This led us to built a website for designers to purchase our font at Playtype.com
At that time it was all about communicating the website and the Playtype brand to the right people. One day while taking a coffee break around the corner from the E-Types office we found an empty shop. The idea came to open a physical shop, promoting a digital product. We bought the store and started designing and producing some mugs, posters and notebooks to make it look like a shop and to show off our different typefaces on accessible physical products. The initial idea with the store was for it to be a pop-up shop for a year and the products were meant as promotion not something we would earn money doing, but people liked our products, and design shops from all over the world wanted to sell our products. We went along the flow of interest and started making more products. It was also fun running a small shop, so after a year we decided to keep it and continued designing more notebooks, mugs and posters and hired some skilled people to professionalize Playtype. So what started as a fun playful way to communicate a digital product (the playtype foundry website) ended up with, almost coincidently, becoming a small business with a lot of potential. The ambition is now to built an even bigger Playtype and make beautiful, meaningful and accessible products showing our passion for typography and colours.
How did you develope the concept and where do you see yourself today and in the future?
Playtype has gone from being a communication exercise and a fun project for our design agency, to a brand and a concept that we believe can be sold all over the world and something we can devote our full time and from there, see how far we can get. That’s the ambition.
What inspires you in terms of graphics and developing identities?
I always try to find a big idea for the brand we are working with before starting any visual process. When we develop identities we always try to look into other categories to find inspiration, so if we are doing a job for a corporate client we try to look into the world of fashion or at lifestyle brands to get inspiration, which is also why we try not to limit ourselves by only working in one category of businesses. Having an open mind and staying curious seems banal, but it is actually very important especially when you have been working with design for 20 years.
Where would you recommend going in Copenhagen
I really like Osteria 16. It's a small Italian restaurant on Vesterbro. The ambiance is relaxed, the waiters are charming and the food is great.
Falernum on Værnedamsvej, close by our shop, is another great place.
The next restaurant I would like to try is Eldorado on Christianshavn. I’ve heard great things about that place.
Rist on Værnedamsvej is my favorite coffee place. It’s located just around the corner from our office, so one or two daily visits isn’t uncommon. Also it’s located just next door to our store.