Sprouting Pattern & Color: Q&A with Kapitza

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I’m a long-time fan of Kapitza, the sister-duo Petra and Nicole Kapitza, who design clever patterns using font software. Their fonts not only help designers make smashingly inventive patterns, but they’re also useful as an alternative to stock illustrations.

Kapitza has just launched their new Geometric app, a pattern-generator for iPhone or iPad, and a real knockout. (That’s my excuse for this post, but in fact Kapitza always creeps to mind for me come springtime. Their patterns are so abundantly floral, yet never cloying – an actual breath of fresh air.) Petra and Nicole answered my Q’s gamely via email.

Jude for Print: You use typographic / font tools to make patterns. How (and why) did you arrive at this approach?

Petra for Kapitza: We are inspired by the possibilities and limitations a font software like Fontlab has to offer. We love the fact that we have to come up with 52 characters, which could be versions of one shape, or a collection of shapes/silhouettes belonging to one overriding theme, e.g. Allotment [a collection of farming-tool illustrations].

How exactly does the app generate patterns? What parameters do you randomize to make this happen?

The patterns are created with the geometric fonts from the Geometric font collection. Each character in this collection takes up the same amount of space – therefore the patterns are forming grids. The patterns are created on the fly by combining a random number of characters + random order + a colour palette + a size. If you switch your iPad from landscape to portrait, you will notice that the characters arrange themselves new.

How did you manage to make randomized patterns consistently look so good?

The patterns work because they utilize the Geometric font collection. The nature of each geometric font makes it easy create an endless amount of nice-looking patterns, even when they are created randomly.

Kapitza’s we love nature stems ones font

Walk us through how you built the font-pattern-alphabets and how a designer might use a Kapitza font to build a pattern. How does one take separate “letterforms” and make a complex, interwoven pattern?

We positioned the characters with the user in mind so it is easy to create patterns by just typing on the keyboard, without having to access the character set/glyph window for help.

In the case of the Geometric font collection for example, the characters are often variations of one shape, we therefore position the shapes in order of A-Z, so it’s easy for the user to create nice sequences just by typing A-Z.

We often use the small characters for mirror shapes of the capital letters, this will make it easy to create a simple but nice pattern just by combining the capital letter A with the small letter a: A + a + A + a….

If you have a look at the tutorial in our Geometric book (download PDF) you’ll find easy examples of how to create patterns.

Any other cool apps you might recommend to pattern fans?

We still like the Büro Destruct Designer. [Note: This dangerously fun app is considerably more complex than Geometric, but a nice complement. Shake the app to generate a fully randomized pattern. You can then tweak the colors, grid placement, transparency of shapes, and other elements from there. Email your finished treasure to yourself or save it to your photo roll.]

We also really like Draw Something.

Büro Destruct Designer from the App Store

You’ve made fonts with themes ranging from people, animals, flowers, organic shapes, and objects. What’s next?

We’re continuing our research in nature which will result in more flower fonts, the first of which is our latest font release Pod, which is more illustrative in nature.

We are currently working on our third book which will be all about flowers.

And we’ll also be release more fonts from the Organic font collection [which includes Orbit, Tape and Wave] and continue our exploration of organic shapes. We’re also planning release another app soon.

Thank you, Kapitza!

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