Calcula, a geometrical layering display typeface with thousands of ligatures

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Inspired by the geometric Kufic style of traditional Arabic calligraphy, Calcula has grown far beyond its beginnings as Shiva Nallaperumal’s student project at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Its maze-like complexity is created by the fixed width of the white spaces between and within letters, a feature which required complex OpenType programming and the creation of over 6,000 ligatures per style. While Calcula is a functional typeface, its design principles are rooted in lettering, in that each letter reacts to neighbouring letters, adapting to its context. Calcula is great for creating patterns from single letters, combinations of letters, or even entire words.

Read this in-depth essay about developing Calcula.

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Tal Leming, Shiva’s teacher at MICA, programmed the OpenType features of Calcula, and wrote several iterations of the scripts that build the ligatures based on predefined rules. Frederik Berlaen wrote the scripts that constructed Calcula’s layering styles.

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