One of the things you notice first when you arrive Kerala is the beautifully curvy and mysterious script. The Malayalam alphabet consists of 56 letters. Its rounded form comes from the fact it was primarily handwritten with a sharp point on dried palm leaves. Theresa “Tess” Joseph George fell in love with lettering while working for renowned graphic designer and typographer TV Narayan. Tess is the founder of Thought Factory Design, the Cochin-based firm behind Raxa Collective’s visual identity. A few years ago Thought Factory, now a team of 8 designers, started getting projects requiring the use of Malayalam and English simultaneously on the same page. They started to experiment and explore with Malayalam and english letterforms, researching on local hand-painted signs, playing around the Malayalam script and language. The designers try and maintain the basic geometry of the letter but also explore variations that work in latin script, and adapt that to Malayalam letters. All in a bid to bring up a fresh and exciting Malayalam-based typography and design.
This led to the creation of a brand, Viakerala, a contemporary adaptation of the Malayalam visual culture to catch the attention of travelers and local young ‘mallus’. Viakerala creates a modern visual imagery of Kerala and applies it in lines of stationery, fashion, accessories, toys and souvenirs. The brand now has two shops, one in Cochin and one here at Cardamom County.