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Take Five with...

Aoife Mooney

What is the most unusual project you’ve ever worked on?
I worked on a typeface for my MATD at Reading where I fused influences of the broad nibbed pen with those of the brush stroke to make a sort of swashy upright italic. That was pretty unusual. Other than that, I think the more unusual aspects have been more in the research end of things since I started back into academia. I have recently been working on a project to map the expressive qualities of letterforms to a flexible design space. It’s all theoretical, which is pretty unusual to me in that it doesn’t have a direct outcome or an end user in mind, and it is through the research that the value of the project becomes apparent. This feels strange from a practitioner’s standpoint and I really like having this other way of thinking coexisting with design projects, and I feel very privileged to get to do both.

Who is your creative hero?
Ohpa! So, typographically, Herb Lubalin is my dog Herbie’s namesake (alongside Herbie Hancock) and I am a huge fan of the Underware type foundry. Herman Zapf, whose writings about type I met at a time when it was particularly pertinent to know how to think about a life dedicated to creativity, and inspired as much as they informed. Similarly, Robert Bringhurst, whose lyricism in writing about type and language makes for a meditative creative headspace that I thumb through whenever I’m feeling the need for direction. More broadly, Louis C.K., Rebecca Solnit, and Frank Oz.


What would you do with a spare €100?
I would adopt another dog, to be a pal for my little bear, or sign up for a race or two.

What piece of work do you wish you had created?
I’m currently very enamored with the Bely typeface by Roxane Gataud. I would love to have made this myself. The taut tension of the counters with the swelling bowls and bellies of the forms feels assertive without being overbearing, and both delicate and strong at the same time. Beautiful!

What’s your soundtrack?
I’m all over the place when it comes to music… Depending on what I’m doing, I fall back regularly on Kate Bush, Crystal Castles, LOVE, LCD Soundsystem, Joni Mitchell, Kila and Oki, and more recently have been a bit mad about Sylvan Esso.


Aoife is a teacher, type designer and researcher. She is an Assistant Professor at Kent State University in Ohio, where she teaches classes in typography, typeface design, and graphic design. She holds an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading (UK) and a BA in Visual Communications from Dublin Institute of Technology. Before moving to Ohio in 2013, she worked for three years as a typeface designer at the Hoefler & Frere-Jones type foundry, contributing to the development of the Idlewild, Tungsten and Surveyor families among others. Her research focuses on the relationship between typography, language and personal expression, and this informs her practice as a typeface designer and she has presented regularly and internationally—most recently at TypeCon Seattle and ATypI Warsaw. She has written for Design Observer and Typographica and in the last year her BioRhyme typeface family was released with Google WebFonts, and she worked on the development of the Mallory typeface for Frere-Jones Type (NYC). She is also a co-instructor with the Crafting Type type design workshops.