Young Ones Student Awards

The Young Ones competition is one of the most acclaimed advertising, interactive and design student competitions. It has a tradition of excellence dating back to 1986.

2023 Young Ones - Young Ones TDC


School Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg) / Hamburg


Type Design / Other / Experimental

Annual ID



Phono is a sound-reactive variable font inspired by the human voice. If type is to the written word what the voice is to the spoken word, then Phono investigates a way in which the face of the type can correspond to the sound of speech. This attempt is made by connecting the three custom axes High, Mid and Low Frequencies to a sound input. The fourth axis Tone of Voice makes the overall typeface appear soft, clear or sharp.

In the form-finding process, the question arose as to which tonal parameters can be used to define identity and how these can be transferred to the construction of letters. In answer to this question, Phono’s design is significantly inspired by the spectrogram as a visualizer of sound, which follows a simple principle: The louder a respective frequency is addressed, the darker or stronger the visual recording in this range becomes. This creates patterns of different grey values from which the complex constellation of frequencies can be read. Therefore, the design of Phono allows different horizontal parts of the letters to be faded out separately via the High, Mid and Low Frequencies axes. In this way, different weight distributions and contrast models can be generated.

Because Phono was designed to be used interactively, the Phono website works like a kind of typographic sonogram. It translates the users’ microphone input into three different frequency spectra, which are then connected to the High, Mid and Low Frequencies axes of the variable font. This way, you can shape Phono with your voice and create different typefaces through different phonetic sounds. In addition to typing words, you can also use a speech-to-text engine that translates the words you speak into text, while the sounds produced by those words are translated into the form of the written image.

2023 Awards

Total Points: 10

Student TDC Winner



Paul Eslage


Johannes Eslage

Type Designer

Paul Eslage

College / University

Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg)

Professor / Instructor

Pierre Pané-Farré
Heike Grebin
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