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Fit Armenian

In 2016, Armenian type designer Gor Jihanian and some friends traveled to Surat, a once-thriving port city in the western state of Gujarat, India. There, they learned of the Armenian Cemetery of Surat, a collection of roughly two hundred gravestones—the only remaining trace of a vibrant Armenian community that first pioneered foreign trade and commerce in India, ultimately settling there in the sixteenth century. Intricate relief inscriptions covered the gravestones, sticking to a precise format incorporating borders, iconography, strict grids of rows, and thick ridges between lines. To fit text into rows, the carvers employed various means: they cut narrow slits for counters; they nested and wrapped letters; they stuffed abbreviations into nooks and crannies; they created ligatures from overlaid shapes. And by carving in relief, they harnessed shadows to help define the letterforms. Jihanian was transfixed.

It was during this trip that he first became aware of Fit, David Jonathan Ross’ display tour de force. Fit, like the relief inscriptions Jihanian observed in Surat, mobilizes slitlike counters, inventive ligatures, and variable widths for maximum impact in limited space. What, Jihanian wondered, would an Armenian version of Fit look like? He proposed the idea to Ross; a collaboration was born. And the rest, as they say, is history.