In 2015, Google asked us to contribute to their growing library of open-source web fonts. The scope of the project envisaged the development of a Latin and Gujarati type system in multiple weights. Contrary to the conventional method of starting the design from scratch, we chose to explore the idea of design-as-redesign, using existing typefaces as points of departure.
For Latin, lead designer Anna Štěpanovská chose the open-source typeface Merriweather from Google’s library as a starting point. By way of redesign, she substantially changed key proportions and redrew most of its contours. The result, Yrsa, is a distinguished typeface intended for long-form texts (e.g. on blogs or publishing platforms like Medium). It has a clean, soft-spoken presence and even rhythm, qualities that aid continuous reading.
Rasa is a typeface for Indian users. Besides Latin, it supports Indian languages that use the Gujarati script. Like Yrsa, it originated from an existing design: Skolar Gujarati by David Březina. The proportion and styling of the Gujarati was adapted to match Yrsa’s Latin and thus work together harmoniously. The fonts include several hundred glyphs, including the required syllabic combinations (conjuncts), and extensive programming required to make the Gujarati script work automatically.
In 2020–2021, Yrsa and Rasa received a major update. We added a substantial set of glyphs to the uprights of both type families so we could provide wider language support (over 331 languages), including full support for Vietnamese. While we were at it, we also threw in additional stylistic sets of numerals and quite a few monetary symbols. On top of all this, we finally released the highly anticipated and often requested italics for the Latin script. Unlike the uprights, the italics were designed completely from scratch, giving the family a distinctive touch. Optimized for screen and online use, Yrsa is now a well-rounded text typeface. Rasa received only a minor maintenance update and an addition of glyphs to support the Avestan language. Both families come with variable fonts!