How to address the politics of gender in and through typography?

Designing a Feminist Devanagari Typeface

Classroom Project
B.Des 2017
Graphic Design

student portfolio︎︎︎

The purpose of this project was to design a Devanagari typeface inspired by UN SDG 5 (Gender Equality). Research into the perception of gender in typefaces showed how some visual trends reflected gender stereotypes; strong, squarish typefaces were perceived as masculine while thin, rounded, flowy typefaces were perceived as feminine. I aimed to create a typeface that combined the more perceptually feminine aspects with boldness and strength.

I began with an abstract question - how can you reflect a social movement in a typeface? When I started this project, I thought that the perception of the audience regarding gender and typefaces would be neutral, and that my primary research would show that there is no correlation. Through my research, I realised that the subconscious biases people have regarding certain forms and shapes also affect how they see typefaces. It opened my eyes to the intricacies of type and form. My key finding was that the physical characteristics stereotypically associated with gender also found their way into something as omnipresent as type. There are studies on the psychology of fonts, but none for gender and Devanagari type. Certain aspects of Devanagari’s anatomy could be associated with the perception of gender in the typeface. I tried to use these findings to create a typeface of my own.

As part of my research, I would like to collect more demographic data and test a hypothesis that the gender one identifies with could possibly affect their perception of type and form. I have created a single Devanagari typeface, but my goal is to have a family of typefaces that represent different combinations and question societal stereotypes.

This project made me more sensitive to the effect of typefaces on the viewer. I have developed a better understanding of the work and the attention to detail while designing a typeface. I have also become more curious about the different lenses through which we view the world.


  • Aasawari Kulkarni's feminist Latin typeface Nari 
  • My guide Dr. Nanki Nath
  • Discussions and Reviews with Family and Friends