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I Love Typography


From May 19–21, FontShop hosted its 16th annual TYPO-Berlin conference. Over 1,600 guests were in attendance. This year’s conference theme was “Shift,” and the subtext of many of the presentations dealt with how to bring one’s design work to the next level, whether that is the next level of your own personal development, or to new brands of media. With so many graphic designers in one place, it is no wonder that several type foundries and publishers chose this event to launch new products. Many of these items have already been discussed on Twitter or on other blogs, such as in last week’s weekly Typedia report. Nevertheless, the following recap should still be of interest to I Love Typography readers.

Klim Type Foundry

New Zealand’s Kris Sowersby (also an I Love Typography contributor) used his Thursday evening lecture to announce the release of his two newest type families: Calibre and Metric.

While Calibre and Metric are separate designs, Sowersby writes that they each share an underlying geometry. They each have roots in the canon of the history of European sans serif design. Calibre takes some influence from Aldo Novarese’s Recta, and Metric samples forms familiar from street sign letters in West Berlin. While Calibre is a neo-grotesque, Metric is more humanist; Sowersby calls it a “geometric humanist.” Like most of Sowersby’s other commercial fonts, Calibre and Metric may be licensed through Village.

Storm Type Foundry

In a lively lecture at the end of the conference’s first day, František Štorm showed samples from several of his recent typeface releases, including the new Janon Sans, a sans serif counterpart to his Jannon family. Storm Type Foundry’s Jannon is based on the oldstyle letterforms of punchcutter Jean Jannon (1580–1641). There are not too many sans serifs counterparts to Garamond-style typefaces; during the early twentieth century, Jannon’s types were misattributed to Claude Garamond, so Jannon Sans may mix well not only with Jannon, but with Jannon-esque Garamonds, like Monotype Garamond or Garamond #3.

During his talk, Štorm also presented images of his whimsical Bhang family. Inspired by the intensely creative styles of hand-painted sign lettering in India — a genre that is gradually being replaced by digital printing and vinyl-cutting machines — Bhang hopes to preserve some of what may soon be otherwise lost from the visual landscape. To stimulate the actual use of Bhang on signs, the Strong variant of the family (something like a regular weight) is available as a free download from the Storm Type Foundry website.


Although he has released several fonts through the FontFont library, Typotheque’s founder Peter Biľak only paid his first visit to the TYPO-Berlin conference this year. One of the many new projects that he presented during his two talks was Elementar. Designed by Gustavo Ferreira, Elementar is a system of 420 “parametric bitmap” fonts. With the aid of sliders, Typotheque customers can select the height, weight, width, and style of the letters. As is the case with other Typotheque types, webfont versions of Elementar can be licensed and delivered via Typotheque’s own webfont service.

At TYPO-Berlin, Biľak demonstrated an iPad app for Elementar, which should soon be released via Apple’s App store. With just their fingers, users will be able to select the size, width, thickness, and style of the Elementar fonts they would like to license. Purchases can be made directly from the app to users’ Typotheque accounts — an innovation that I would like to see more foundries adopt.

FontShop AG

FontShop AG — sometimes referred to by designers as FontShop Berlin or FontShop Germany — is usually known as a font reseller, not as an actual foundry. Unlike its sister company FSI FontShop International GmbH, FontShop AG has not released many typefaces under its own banner. A notable exception was the 2009 release of Erik Spiekermann’s Axel typeface, designed specially for use in Microsoft Excel documents. Just before the start of TYPO-Berlin 2011, FontShop AG released Georg Seifert’s Azuro.

Another typeface designed for on-screen reading, I find Azuro interesting for three reasons. First, as is reported on the FontFeed, Azuro’s forms were tested extensively on-screen during the design process. And Azuro was not just tested on one screen, but on many kinds of screens. Seifert even incorporated iOS testing into his design process. Second, Azuro is the product of strong collaboration between several font technology experts. No stranger to programming himself, Seifert designed Azuro in Glyphs — a new Mac font editor that Seifert wrote himself — instead of in FontLab Studio. The font files were hinted by Jens Kutílek. In the font production process, additional testing tools written by Yanone were used. Finally, Azuro is of interest for its accessibility: through May 31, 2011, the Azuro family can be licensed for about €20, rather than about €200.

For TYPO-Berlin this year, FontShop AG did not stop at releasing another new typeface. They also published a tool to help designers everywhere draw letters on their own: A handy stencil element template, the Fontfummler allows anyone to quickly draw letter elements by hand, on paper. By combining the various letterform elements or shapes, almost any kind of Latin-script letterform can be constructed. The technique reminds me a little of W.A. Dwiggins’s own stenciled Falcon typeface.

According to the FontBlog, the name for this stencil was found by Erik Spiekermann. The stencil’s design comes from EdenSpiekermann‘s Lars Krüger. Alexander Roth has produced a digital font made from letters built with the Fontfummler: the font is named Fummler, after the German verb “fummeln” (to fumble or twiddle with). TYPO-Berlin attendees received pre-cut Fontfummlers of their own, but via this link, anyone may download the template, and get directly to work!

Two Books

You might already be familiar with the decodeunicode.org, a wiki-like initiative to explain Unicode and the meaning of its multitude of encoded glyphs in the Unicode 6.0 standard. The website is a resource from designers, for designers. Now, German readers can add the appropriately thick Decodeunicode book to their libraries. Here is my translation of the publisher’s description of the book:

“Unnoticed glyph treasures slumber deep underneath of the keyboard … but where, exactly? Compared with the Tower of Babel, Unicode is a sort of typography United Nations; every character receives its own encoded place. Decodeunicode is your key to all the characters of the world. The book presents all 109,242; too, it makes them easily discoverable. Decodeunicode arouses interest in discovering unfamiliar symbols and the creative use of doing so. And it introduces all writing systems, too — living and dead, often — used as well as niche scripts. The book is a 600-page typographic trip through the world and the history of writing.”

German readers may also browse through Jürgen Siebert’s detailed review on the FontBlog.

Typoversity is another German-language title first presented at TYPO-Berlin. The book combines samples of student typography projects from various schools in Central Europe and a series of interviews with typography instructors in Germany. The book is well-produced, and is typeset in Novel and Novel Sans, from Christoph Dunst. The cover was produced using polymer plate letterpress techniques.

abc litera

Not so much of a release as an announcement: small flyers distributed during the conference whetted the appetite for the work of a new Swiss foundry. A collaboration between Jost Hochuli, Jonas Niedermann, and Roland Stieger, one can expect excellent tools to soon come from abc litera.

Their simple, two-color, folded A4 flyer showcased Steiger’s Alena and Hochuli’s Allegra. A serif face — Nicolas is also shown on their website. I have heard no word yet on how these three families will be distributed, but I am willing to bet that each will be an excellent workhorse face for book typography.

Dan Reynolds was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Before moving to Europe, he received a BFA in graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design. Reynolds studied at the HfG Offenbach for a few years before receiving an MA in typeface design from the University of Reading (U.K.). Today, he lives in Berlin, Germany, where he works for Linotype GmbH and teaches typeface design at the Hochschule Darmstadt. His most recent typeface, Malabar, received a Certificate of Excellence in Type Design from the Type Directors Club, a silver medal at the ED-Awards 2009, and a gold medal from the 2010 Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany competition. Dan blogs from time to time at www.typeoff.de.