Akira Kobayashi, Type Director APAC, oversees font development and selection for the Monotype library

Akira Kobayashi

With an extensive background in Japanese typeface design and a deep understanding of calligraphy, type director Akira Kobayashi has three decades of experience. In that time he’s collaborated with some of the biggest names in type design, including Adrian Frutiger and Hermann Zapf.

After studying at Musashino Art University in Tokyo for four years, Akira Kobayashi accepted his first job at phototypesetting manufacturer Sha-Ken Co., where he was involved in the lengthy and intricate process of designing Japanese fonts. After leaving this role he studied calligraphy at the London College of Printing, worked as a freelance type designer, and has been a type director since 2001. In 2002 Kobayashi released Optima Nova – a modernization of Hermann Zapf’s Optima design – and in 2009 he partnered with Adrian Frutiger to update his eponymous typeface family. More recently Kobayashi directed the development of Tazugane, Monotype’s first original Japanese typeface.

  • Responsible for the design over 50 font families including DIN Next, Akko Pro and Neue Frutiger
  • Closely collaborated with Hermann Zapf to release Zapfino Extra and Palatino Nova – expanded and updated versions of of the original families
  • Developed typefaces for major brands including Sony, UBS and Panasonic


One typeface cooked three ways|

DIN Next™ Slab

From Hauptstraße to the highway|


Negative space, positive impact|

Neue Frutiger®

Avenir® Next

Strictly modern, surprisingly human|

In his words

“It’s important to remember that letters do not stand by themselves; they have to work together to form words. When they do not satisfy me, I change letterforms rather freely.”