Steven Heller’s Font of the Month: Pufff

Show me a font where most of the letters appear to be made from amorphous ink blotches (or some other bold mottled forms) and I’ll show you my favorite face of the month – and possibly of the year – as well as my preference for best name to boot: Pufff produced for Mota Italic and designed by Rob Keller.

It is plucky and audacious for breaking every possible rule of legibility while retaining unequivocal readability. Pufff is too well-crafted to be written off as a novelty, although admittedly a strain on the eye to read many contiguous blocks of it, but not impossible. In fact, Pufff is proofff that even blobs with just minor tweaks can not only be recognized as letters but make eye-catching typography.

Pufff is labeled a “fffat ffface” but it is more than excessive fatness that pushes Pufff to the outer limits. Just take it for a test drive in caps and/or upper- and lowercase, and you’ll find that the smaller the point size, miraculously, the more legible it becomes. While in larger settings the font’s legibility is reduced, its readability remains consistent. Despite the bloating effect, the tiny nuances that, for instance, distinguish the forms from totally amorphous into articulated letters retain integrity and identity (take a look especially at the lowercase a and m).

Puff is unabashedly functional, serving the fundamental requirement — to be deciphered — and the secondary role of expressing a distinct personality. Try it; you’ll see! While playing obsessively with the “type tester”, Pufff reminded me of the one time I witnessed a blowfish balloon itself from a normal fish into a ball before my very eyes. There are times when the natural world is so incredibly weird, and times when typeface design is so naturally incredible.

Font of the Month: PUFFF
Designer: Rob keller Foundry:  Mota Italic

Steven Heller is nothing short of a legend in the design community. Award-winning graphic designer, author and editor of hundreds of books (yes, 100s!) and one of the world’s foremost authorities on graphic design history; and arguably its best design commentator. Follow Steven on the must-read The Daily Heller and read his latest book, Type Speaks.

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