Fonts in Focus:

For the previous Fonts in Focus we visited the New York office of Commercial Type to take a closer look at Sandrine Nugue’s wonderful stencil typeface, Orientation. Today, we leave New York, speed across the Atlantic and touch down in Finland, because it’s there, in Helsinki to be precise, that type and graphic designer Joona Louhi is based.

“It started as an exploration into ways in which a typeface could evoke a sense of italic without having an actual slope. This idea manifested in an unorthodox modulation and rotating counter shapes.”

In 2019, Joona graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in Den Haag with a Masters in Type Design. It was during the course that the idea for Louche was born. Joona wondered how a typeface might feel like an italic while remaining upright in stance. At first glance, Louche (pronounced Loosh) appears to be an idiosyncratic and condensed high-contrast display typeface. Upon closer inspection, it still is! But it’s also much more — in both its conception and execution.

My favorite aspect of Louche is the ‘italicization’ of the counters. What am I talking about? Well, in 99% of italics, the letterforms are inclined or sloped; but in Louche, the letters themselves remain upright, while the counters — the spaces inside the letters — become sloped or italicized. Ultimately, this affects the stress of the letters; that is, the distribution of weight (of black) in the letterforms. And it’s this distortion and rotation of the counters which gives Louche its rather oddball or off-kilter appearance.

Louche’s off-kilter and unconventional counter shapes (orange). Hover over (or tap) to see only the counters

The unconventional distribution of weight is amplified by other asymmetries, like the oblique crossbars in A E F H and the triangular serif/terminals in letters like E L F T.

High-contrast typefaces, commonly classified as Modern or Didone (entirely useless designations), are often described as architectural, and it’s easy to understand why. And, although Louche retains its Architectural stance, it takes more of its cues from Gaudí than Classical Rome. Louche resembles a Fat Face typeface that got into a fight with Bodoni, but somehow managed to come out the other side looking decidedly fabulous despite — or because of — the bruises and dislocations.

It’s worth mentioning the plain and thoroughly unassuming {braces} and (parentheses). In an unconventional typeface like Louche, it can be tempting to go to town on every glyph, but Joona has shown some restraint, drawing braces, parentheses, and other punctuation marks that are not the least bit interested in the limelight — and the typeface is all the better for it.

The aim of Fonts in Focus is not to exhaustively profile, but to highlight typefaces that I like (ideally, in fewer than 500 words). Sometimes they’ll be new releases — at other times, older or overlooked types that merit more attention.

Colophon: this article is set in LFT Arnoldo and Lektorat, both from Typetogether

Louche, meaning atypical but nonetheless attractive, pretty much sums up this typeface’s naughty but nice vibe. It’s certainly not your grandma’s high-contrast display typeface, but I love the concept; and even the freakiest or most eccentric details rally behind a unified theme. So, what is Louche good for? For a century, anything high contrast with hairline serifs has come to be associated with fashion. And, for sure, Louche could shine in Fashion magazines; but it will also have a place in branding projects, in editorial design, and anywhere else you need to grab attention with a short headline. Louche, designed by Joona Louhi, comes in four weights: Regular, Medium, Bold, & Black; and is available to license through Future Fonts

Designer: Joola Louhi Available at: Future Fonts
Styles: Regular, Medium, Bold, Black Published: 04/2021 (ver. 0.5)

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