Working with Malayalam typography was not an easy task for Theresa, “I didn’t understand the challenges till I started working with it. There is an option in Malayalam that you can join two phonetic sounds and make a new letter or glyph!” That gives rise to more than 900 ligature forms that are available. She continues, “We also found from our research that because of the shift to typewriters in the 80’s, some letters were dropped. We at Via Kerala have a huge playing field. We have letters from before the 80’s but it is definitely easy to work with the ones post that era because they fit into a particular height and width.”
Not losing sight of social commitment
There is more to Via Kerala than just the business aspect. Theresa is also very definite about her social commitment and wanted Via Kerala to move beyond being just a visual representation. She wanted to source whatever she could from Kerala itself. Theresa supports local enterprises and prefers working with smaller businesses. “We make conscious decisions at every level of production, going back to the original idea that the name Via Kerala should also represent a product that is made via Kerala.”
Being part of the 2014 Kochi Muziris Biennale
Incidentally Via Kerala was launched as a partner exhibit at the 2014 Kochi Muziris Biennale as a collaborative forum for experiments in the Malayalam language, with a special focus on typography.
Throwing light on her future plans, Theresa hopes to spread out and reach Malayalis who are not in Kerala. The online store has some products but she wants to increase her online presence and also start customising her products and garner a bigger market presence.