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I LOVE TYPOGRAPHY

Bodoni Egyptian Mono

In a landscape filled with thousands of typefaces, Bodoni Egyptian Mono is an unexpected design that mixes together wildly divergent DNAs. The result might take a moment to get used to, and it works best in paragraph settings where the idiosyncrasies of monospacing are lost a bit, and it feels quite comfortable to read there. Its designer, Nick Shinn, is not one to shy away from experimentation, and in the interview below he explains the background of the design and how it came to be. There’s even talk of a '50s style cookbook so do read on!

In 2001 you released Bodoni Egyptian which is a hybrid of those two styles. Fast forward to 2022 and we now welcome Bodoni Egyptian Mono. What has prompted the expansion of the design space into a monospace one as well? 

Someone commented, back then, that it looked kind of typewriterish, and I held that thought. Then late last year a client was working on a branding with deliberately gappy and uneven letter spacing, which I thought looked very cool. And it occurred to me, contrarian as ever, that while monospaced typefaces invariably design out irregular spacing, to the extent of hugely distorting letter forms, it might be possible to achieve a more dignified effect, retaining much of the classic letter proportions. Also, I’ve designed several monowidth typefaces already (for instance, Parity Sans), but they are all unicase — a novelty — so it seemed about time to do a “proper” monowidth style!

What is the key differentiator of Bodoni Egyptian Mono from other monospaced typefaces?


Several. The small x-height, of course, which makes the caps much more condensed than the lower case (while leaving plenty of room for Vietnamese accents). And also the copious range of “expert” features, such as small caps, superior and inferior figures, and alternate old style figures — rendered throughout a five-weight family in both roman and italic.

Quite unique, as far as I know, is how the Fraction feature is coded to make double-width “slash” fractions (while still observing the fixed width glyph constraint) — much more legible than the usual nut fractions.

Is there a particular usage that you had in mind while drawing?


I tested the Fraction feature on recipes. I’ve long cherished a cookbook of my mother-in-law’s recipes, rigorously laid out, typed and mimeographed in the 1950s. Real home-made vibe!

Bodoni Egyptian Mono is designed and drawn for the Variable Font format, but I haven’t gotten around to productizing that just yet. If someone buys the full range of weights, roman and/or italic, they will get the VF upgrade free of charge.
 
Is there a specific size range that you feel the typeface is best suited for?

For text, certainly, in the “typed manuscript” mode, but for display purposes the monowidth constraint offers interesting possibilities. Michael C. Place’s design system for Nike in 2018, for instance, exploited the grid with monowidth typography, to great effect. I’ve tried to capture some of that structured layout quality in the specimens.

Where would you like to see Bodoni Egyptian Mono being used?

I never consider that. But weird is good. I love it when people do things with my fonts that I would never have imagined.

Bodoni Egyptian Mono is released as part of ILT’s Font Fashion Week.

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