Follow me in this tour de force around designing a number, specifically, a number 9. Everything starts when trying to bring coherence between the text font and the tracing font in a product to teach the alphabet to kids as part of Product Development.

Number 9’s tracing is build with a straight stem connecting with the top bowl to facilitate the students writing due to the limited hand motor skills; whereas in text fonts, number 9 is drawn with a curved steam. This disconnection became bothersome because it could mislead the student.

It is an unusual sight to see a straight steam nine as a text font when you look at all the nines out there.

And sure we could just use the shape of the ‘q’ and push it up to the baseline, but what about when students see the characters isolated? The straight stem nine needs its own shape following the calligraphic ductus, even if there’s something odd in its shape.

And after dozens of fights with that nine straight silhouette, trying to make it fit in the beauty of its alphabet partners, a quote from Matthew Carter comes to mind and brings peace, it’s not the letter, its the group of them.

And so, with peace of mind, production is done, and the product goes out, for its users to make sense of it.

The 9nd