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Kit Hinrichs’s Typography Calendar

By Terri Stone

For the past 15 years, Kit Hinrichs has designed and published a paper calendar. That may seem like an anachronism in these app-centric days, but in fact its sales are climbing. The calendar continues to appeal because it’s as much a work of art as it is a time manager.

There are no illustrations or photos in the calendar, named 365. Type plays the starring role, with each month showcasing a different face. Numbered days of the month dominate the page, but look in the upper left-hand corner of the page and you’ll see a small block of text that quietly delivers information about the typeface, its designer, and contemporary technological influences.

“I’ve long found it ironic that most people see the word, but seem oblivious to the typography that makes it visible,” Hinrichs says. “They focus on the meaning of the words, but miss the beauty, variety, and emotional expression of the typeface chosen to visualize the words. Sadly, few people, including graphic designers, know much about the origin and history of the typography we experience and use every day.”

This belief spurred Hinrichs to create the first edition of 365 in 2001. It featured Bodoni, Caslon, Futura, Garamond, and other classics. Since then, he has incorporated many contemporary styles and type designers. “The 365 Calendar has featured single designers,” Hinrichs explains, “such as the works of Matthew Carter and Jonathan Hofler/Tobias Frere-Jones; the nominated choices of friends and colleagues, including the Pentagram partners and AGI members; and one-of-kind faces and commercially unavailable faces. In this way, I hope to introduce the public to a rich mix of quirky, little known, historical, classic, and seasonal display typography.”

Together, these pages, which come from several different years, are like Kit Hinrichs's dream calendar.

Some years have a theme; other years are a mélange of faces that have piqued Hinrichs’s interest. “Like all design,” he says, “you need to be open to fielding new ideas and taking advantage of new things you’re exposed to.” He’s now in the process of selecting faces for the 2017 calendar.

The covers also change from year to year. “Initially, the cover concept for the 365 Calendar was simply to visualize the two broad typographic categories: serif and sans serif,” Hinrichs says. But as demand for the calendar grew, retailers and customers wanted a more visible way to differentiate the years. “Our solution was to use an outline of the 12 typefaces chosen for that year and overlap them to form 365. This gave each calendar a distinctive look without losing the emblematic 365.”

You can buy the 2016 calendar at Canoe (Portland, OR); Design Warehouse (Santa Fe, NM); Laywine’s and Take Note (Toronto, ON); Museum of Arts and Design (New York, NY); Rock Paper Scissors (Charlottesville, VA); Museum of Craft and Design (San Francisco, CA); TableTop DC (Washington, DC); and on Amazon. It comes in two sizes: 23”x33” for $49, and 12”x18” for $32.

Hinrich’s past and present calendars are on display at the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography, part of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.

If you hurry, you can also see many pages of Hinrichs’s past and present calendars in an exhibition at the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography, part of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. ”We presented some of my favorite calendar pages across a wall using actual pages from the 15-year history of the calendar,” Hinrichs says. “The display was book-ended by complete 2001 and 2016 calendars.” The exhibit is part of the Center’s inaugural event, Typography: Past/Present/Future, which runs until December 15.