Chiachi Chao’s typography blends Western and Eastern writing styles

Our Next Generation 2022 showcase shines a light on 22 outstanding graduates from around the globe, in seven creative fields. We profile Taiwanese type and graphic designer Chiachi Chao, a graduate of ECAL, Lausanne

Installation view of Kleisch, by Chiachi Chao
Installation view of the project Kleisch, by Chiachi Chao
(Image credit: press)

A graduate of the master’s in Type Design at ECAL, Chiachi Chao is currently living in Lausanne. The Taiwanese designer created the Kleisch typeface as part of his final studies, describing it as a Latin serif typeface developed for bi-scriptural typesetting. ‘As a typographic designer with a background in Latin and Chinese, Kleisch is my attempt to bridge the connection between the Serif Latin typefaces with Ming typefaces,’ he says, asking ‘what are the similar traits that can bring together two different typefaces from different scripts?’

By blending Baroque and Neoclassical styles, Chao has created a flexible set of modern letterforms that can accommodate the varying weights of different Ming characters.

Chiachi Chao

(Image credit: press)

Research took him from the history of Western and Eastern writing styles, from the technical limitations of early printing to the speed of brushed Chinese calligraphic writing. The evolution of a moveable type version of Ming made the fluid marks and forms of each character much more formalised, while still remaining very distinct and different from conventional Latin lettering. ‘Inspired by the story of Caslon, I imagined myself as a punchcutter in the early 18th century, cutting a typeface based on the Baroque model, but adding the neoclassical taste of Neoclassical time. This is a transitional face between two transitional models,’ he says.

‘Kleisch consists of 16 styles with a variable font that offers adjustable axes (weight and contrast) to adapt with different Ming typefaces accordingly.’ The final typeface was based on the cuts of the 17th-century designers Miklós Tótfalusi Kis and Christoffel van Dijck and the 18th-century German-Dutch typographer Johann Michael Fleischmann. 

Dream collaborators: François Rappo, Radim Peško and Kasper Florio.

Wallpaper* Next Generation 2022

More young talents to watch – dubbed ‘22 rising stars for 2022’ and from creative fields spanning design, jewellery, transport, architecture, photography, fashion, and visual communication – can be discovered in the January 2022 Next Generation issue of Wallpaper*, and in this ongoing series at 

Chiachi Chao typography project

(Image credit: press)


Our Next Generation showcase of outstanding new talents appears in the January 2022 issue of Wallpaper* (W*273). Subscribe today!

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.