Gunnar Vilhjálmsson


Gunnar Vilhjálmsson is the co-founder of Universal Thirst, an Indian and Icelandic type foundry that makes typefaces for the Indic, Latin and Arabic scripts. Gunnar studied graphic design at Iceland University of the Arts, and worked briefly in Reykjavik’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 in 2010, he joined Monotype’s London studio, working on major type projects for global brands. Since launching in 2016, Universal Thirst has taken on bespoke projects for Google, The Gourmand, Frieze Art Fair, DesignMarch, Monotype and Falcon Enamelware, and is scheduled to open its font library to the world this fall.


BITS9 Conference
Gunnar Vilhjálmsson and Kalapi Gajjar
October 12, 2019
Late afternoon Session
3:30pm - 5:00pm
at Grand Ballroom Fl.2, Le Meridien Chiang Mai

“The universal thirst for South Asian typefaces”

In the early stages of setting up Universal Thirst, its founders stumbled across a 1937 type specimen from the Swadesi foundry in Madras. In it, the foundry director expressed his concern about the lack of well-designed font families, saying there was a “universal thirst” for high quality Indian and Latin typefaces that could be combined in a harmonious way.

This need hasn’t gone away, and there are still only a few quality typefaces that support the different South Asian writing systems - and even fewer that work well together. It’s Universal Thirst’s mission to change this.