ʻŌpua Typeface Collection with CJ Type

March 2023 - March 2024
Designed in collaboration with typographer Cj Dunn, our project aimed to create a typeface, aloha shirt, small garment collection, and exhibition space embodying themes of Hawaiʻi futurism. The typeface was initially crafted with a focus on letters from the Hawaiian alphabet, debuting in a new aloha shirt alongside Sig On Smith. The accompanying exhibition showcased the typeface collection through posters, installations, and apparel pieces.

The exhibition was on display from March 15th - 24th at Kaiao Space, 1018 Smith Street, Honolulu Hawaii

Scope: Design assistant, researched and developed motifs of the aloha shirt and designs of the main apparel. Assisted on the photoshoot and exhibition set up, duration and closing. 

How can we install future-forward thinking for Hawai’i? By going back to the basics. Asking “What came before me? And who?” Listening to the moʻolelo (stories), listening to the ʻōlelo (Hawaiian language), listening to the ʻāina (land). What does mauka (uplands) say to you when youre hiking along the ridges? What does makai (shores) whisper when you are out at sea waiting for the next set?

A typeface rooted in ʻĀina

ʻŌpua Type is made up of Mauka, Makai, and Koʻolau subfamilies.

1. ‘Āina = “The land”
2. Mauka = “Inland, away from the ocean”
3. Makai = “Towards the ocean”
4. Ko‘olau = “Windward side of the Hawaiian Islands”

All typefaces are available for purchase  here.


‘Ōpua Mauka is sharp, angular typeface which is informed by the uniquely powerful, jagged and unyeilding mountains of Hawaiʻi. The design is not based on a specific historical reference, but instead this typeface was designed to relate to mauka spaces and to the feelings of being in the mountains.

‘Ōpua Makai is a flowing, wavy design informed by the coastal regions of Hawai‘i and the vast oceans surrounding them.

‘Ōpua Ko‘olau is a sloped, non-connecting script informed by the cool, flowing tradewinds of Hawai‘i hitting the windward side of the islands. The slope of the letterforms reminds me of leaning forward at the Nuʻuanu Pali Lookout, being held by the strenght of the wind.

Posters (aka type in use)


The Tropospheric Tee is a visual narrative that embraces forward-thinking perspectives on the environment. The front design features a side view of Oʻahu and intricately mapped text to depict the actual rain patterns that grace the island of Oʻahu throughout the year. Utilizing ʻŌpua Koʻolau typeface, the rain patterns, depicted in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, are stanzas from the chant "Ka Wai A Kāne." This choice of chant is significant as it captures a dialogue between the Hawaiian gods Kane and Kanaloa, questioning the whereabouts of water on the islands. In this design, that question finds its answer in the troposphere, the atmospheric layer where clouds form and rain collects, symbolizing wai, moʻolelo, and land, as a spiritual embrace over the island.

The back print reflects my deep appreciation for ʻāina. Over the years, I've come to understand that aloha ʻāina is not just an action but also a mindset—a continuous awareness and care for the land, both consciously and subconsciously. In this design, I present a visual representation of my observations, incorporating my personal motifs to express gratitude for the land's physical attributes, the importance of its preservation, and the kuleana (responsibility) to educate others about its significance.



Kuleana Tee contains three phrases, an homage to concept of having three Piko (navel) in Hawaiian culture. 

Our piko, where life begins, can be defined as: piko poʻo, piko waena, and piko naʻau. Piko po'o is at the top of a person's head. It is the opening that connects the individual's spirit with their ʻaumakua (departed, but ever-present deified ancestors). Piko waena, or the navel, represents the person’s connection to his/her parents, or in this case the present ʻāina. This piko covers the na'au (gut) and holds an individual’s knowledge, wisdom, and emotions. Piko maʻi is the genitalia, which links the person to his/her descendants.   

E Nana Ana i ka ʻŌpua O ka ʻĀina

Look to the clouds to see the future

For the main collaboration with Sig On Smith, we created an aloha shirt. The design centers around ʻŌpua, which translates to clouds in Hawaiian and symbolizes the connection between mauka (uplands) and makai (shores). The cut crescent shapes represent the dense, weighty clouds that frequently adorn the Hawaiian skies during the rainy season. Rooted in the concept of Hawaiʻi futurism, we chose to feature an ʻōlelo noʻeau (traditional Hawaiian saying) by Mary Kawena Pukui, rendered in the distinctive ʻŌpua typeface.
Concept + Creative Direction: CJ Dunn
Concept + Creative Direction: Marika Higgins
Graphic Design: Marika Higgins
Typography: Cj Dunn
Collaboration: Sig on Smith
Aloha shirt manufacturer: Sig On Smith
Exhibition: Kaiao Space
Photography + Videography: Mark Kushimi
Talent: Brennan Ala Wai Research
Special Thanks: Zen, Keao, Micah, Brennan, Aja, Kuhaʻo, Leonardo, Try Coffee, family and friends

No Koʻolaupoko, Oʻahu mai au.