Universal Thirst nominated to the Icelandic Design Awards 2022

October 28th, 2022

Universal Thirst, by founders Gunnar Vilhjálmsson and Kalapi Gajjar, is nominated to the Icelandic Design Awards 2022. The awards will take place on November 17th in Gróska.

From the jury:
To most inhabitants of the western world, the Indian alphabet is exotic and not many can read it. But in this artwork, instead of readability, another type of comprehension emerges. For a moment, comprehension and reading take the back seat to curiosity and sense of aesthetics. The rarity and the aesthetics are the dynamics in the new and interesting work of Gunnar and Kalapi, who bring two different worlds together and provide us with a parallel view of the world of script design. 

The partnership is driven by a vision of more integration between western and eastern script and the opportunities involved. Universal Thirst is exemplary for partnership in design across cultures where research, communication, and innovation build bridges and provide us with new perspectives.


About the project:
Universal Thirst is a type foundry that specialises in Indic and Latin scripts. It was set up in 2016 by designer and engineer duo Gunnar Vilhjálmsson and Kalapi Gajjar, who draw on their contrasting visual heritage to offer a unique, dual perspective on type.Universal Thirst creates bespoke typefaces for companies of all sizes. Our global perspective makes us an invaluable design partner for brands working worldwide, particularly those doing business in South Asia. Our team of designers and engineers can help navigate the diverse and complex languages of these countries.

Universal Thirst’s library of fonts - which includes hard working faces as well as experimental designs that push the possibilities for writing systems - is available for license by individuals and companies. Previous clients and collaborations include brands such as Google, Frieze Art Fair, The Gourmand Magazine, Icelandair, Monotype, Falcon Enamelware, Dhaka Art Summit and DesignMarch.

About the designers:

Gunnar Vilhjálmsson is the co-founder of Universal Thirst, an Indian and Icelandic type foundry. Gunnar studied graphic design at Iceland University of the Arts, and worked briefly in Reykjavík’s creative industry before becoming a freelance designer and focusing on collaborations within the cultural sector. 

After completing his M.A. in Typeface Design at the University of Reading, UK, he joined Monotype’s London studio, working on major type projects for global brands. He set up Universal Thirst in 2016 with Kalapi Gajjar-Bordawekar, and they run the practice together from satellite offices in Reykjavík and Bangalore. 

Kalapi Gajjar-Bordawekar is a typeface designer and font engineer. His primary interest lies in developing original typeface designs for emerging typographic contexts in the Indian sub-continent along with historical and technological research. 

After graduating from the M.A. Typeface Design programme from the University of Reading, UK, Kalapi worked at the London studio of foundry Dalton Maag. He set up Universal Thirst in 2016 with Gunnar Vilhjálmsson, and they run the practice together from satellite offices in Reykjavík and Bangalore. 

The jury of the Icelandic Design Awards are Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, designer and director of the Museum of Design and Applied arts, chairman, María Kristín Jónsdóttir, designer, vice chairman, Ragna Fróðadóttir, designer, Þorleifur Gunnar Gíslason, designer, Arna Sigríður Mathiesen, architect, Margrét Kristín Sigurðardóttir for the Federation of Icelandic Industries and Daniel Byström, designer and Design Nation.

The Icelandic Design Award honours the best Icelandic design and architecture annually. The importance of design in our society, culture and business has been growing steadily, and it is therefore vital to increase the understanding of good design and highlight the value of quality. 

Celebrating achievement and excellence, the Icelandic Design Award is given to a designer, a team, a studio or an architect in recognition of an outstanding new work, object, project or collection. The award is given to a recent project that demonstrates creative thinking, resourceful solutions, thorough presentation and professional methodology throughout the design process. Best investment in design recognises successful investment in design or architecture in the past year. It is awarded over to a company that has incorporated design in the core of its operations to create value and increase competitiveness. 

This week we will be announcing the nominations for the year 2022 and the award ceremony will take place on November 17th. Stay tuned!

The Icelandic Design Award is established by Iceland Design and Architecture in collaboration with the Iceland University of the Arts, the Museum of Design and Applied Art, Promote Iceland, and SI - the Federation of Icelandic Industries.

October 28th, 2022
Álfrún Pálsdóttir


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