Typokaki is a typography and type design collective founded by Hui Chia Yin and Tan Sueh Li in 2012. The collective also includes a research associate, Tan Zi Hao, who writes on visual culture and politics. Their working process is based on the principle that great design starts with thorough research and insights. They organise type workshops, events, and research dedicated to exploring typography and type design specific to Malaysian cultures. Thus far, they have conducted two type workshops that took cultural heritage as a source of inspiration. Their portfolio encompasses typeface design, lettering, identity design, environmental design and publication design for both cultural and commercial institutions.


BITS MMXIII Special Workshop
Hui Chia Yin, Tan Sueh Li & Tan Zi Hao (Typokaki)
November 23, 2013.
4.00 pm. - 7.00 pm.
5th fl Auditorium, bacc.
Available slots : 10 person

"Same Same But Different"

While Southeast Asia may share a number of cultural similarities, the writing system of each particular nation can be radically divergent due to the different historical conditioning and foreign influences.

However, with ASEAN today envisioning a better regional integration in the future, could designers identify a sense of convergence in the various writing systems of Southeast Asia? How could different scripts coexist harmoniously?

This workshop explores the possibility of Southeast Asian multilingualism by inviting participants to design a multilingual and multi-script hybrid logotype. Participants will first choose from a collection of words representing the natural and cultural elements commonly found throughout the region, and with each particular word, participants will design a trilingual multi-script logotype. On top of this, incorporation of relevant graphic elements into the logotype is encouraged.

Bring list: 
Participants are advised to bring along writing and drawing tools: flat brush, pointed brush, calligraphy pen, ink, pencil, pen, papers, scissors, glue, etc. 


BITS MMXIII International Conference
Hui Chia Yin, Tan Sueh Li & Tan Zi Hao (Typokaki)
November 23, 2013.
Afternoon session
5th fl Auditorium, bacc.

“The Changing Face of Multilingualism in Malaysia”

Multilingualism has recently captured the attention of many and has become more prominent amid globalisation. As cultural sensitivity and identity awareness are stressed today, multilingualism plays a visual role in manifesting political inclusiveness – also a commitment now shared by various designers and type practitioners. The multilingual phenomena is however a commonplace in Malaysia even long before the nation’s independence. What typographic conventions can one then observe from Malaysia’s multilingualism, and how has it developed and evolved?

Examining multilingualism in Malaysia cannot do without a recourse to history and an explication on the contestation of ethnolinguistic identities, for the linguistic diversity in Malaysia today is largely a colonial residue. Chinese and Indian immigrants then employed in the British Malaya had remained in the land until independence, and many have become well versed in native Malay, with a smattering of British English. After achieving independence, Malay (as the lingua franca of the Malay archipelago for centuries) was immediately recognised as Malaysia’s national language. However, this provision does not restrict the minority's linguistic practices such as the learning and teaching of the Chinese and Tamil language.

It is against this backdrop that multilingualism appears as a quotidian occurrence in Malaysia. Translation becomes imperative in ensuring that different speech communities would receive the same message and to be equally well informed. Nevertheless, the consistency of multilingualism varies according to speech domains. The interests and the degree of formality in each domain, for instance, determine the necessity for multilingualism: in a business domain, multilingualism is appreciated for commercial purposes; in a public domain, multilingualism is an obligation so to create a sense of equal representation; in a national domain, however, multilingualism appears less frequent since it challenges the sovereignty of the national language.   

It can already be seen that multilingualism plays several roles, some of which are not pragmatic considerations (e.g.: translation) but rather politically motivated (e.g.: identity politics). And hypothetically speaking, the improving cross-linguistic literacy rate in Malaysia reduces the significance of being multilingual. In other words: if citizens from different ethnolinguistic backgrounds today are able to communicate better with English or with the national language Malay, whither multilingualism?

Unquestionably, globalisation and the domineering English language have both undermined multilingualism. Yet, for this precise reason, creative practitioners and activists in Malaysia have begun to perceive multilingualism as a potential instrument for cultural reclamation. From pragmatic translation to inter-language wordplay and cross-linguistic rhyming, multilingualism has come to represent a glocalised, alternative, and subaltern identity. Translation and information matter less. Instead, what is evident in this recent multilingual revivalism is the sense of solidarity shared among different ethnolinguistic groups who are fighting for the same cause. Indeed, same-same but different.