New Additions: February 2022
28th February 2022
From the hundreds of fonts we add to the Identifont database every month we chose a selection of the most interesting recent additions, and interviewed the designers about their approach to each design:
What inspired you to design the Bw Fusiona family?
There was a gap in the Branding with Type catalogue for a super family like this one, highly functional yet with enough personality. For decades now, I've been an admirer of the systematic approach to design of Carl Gerstner and Adrian Frutiger's Univers. In fact, the sorting system for the different styles using numbers is inspired by Univers. I think it's a very smart way of navigating the myriad of weights and widths.
Bw Fusiona is a grotesque sans-serif with higher contrast than the classic grotesques, such as ATF Franklin Gothic (compare ATF Franklin Gothic with Bw Fusiona). You’ve described it as having "centrifugal contrast”; what do you mean by that?
With Bw Fusiona I tried to move away from traditions. Throughout the family, contrast is defined by an imaginary dynamic tension pulling from the inside of each letter, almost like a gravitational force, creating thinner strokes at the centre of the characters (like the crossbars or the deep joins between curves and straight lines). We hinted at it on Bw Gradual, and other designers have played with similar concepts too, like Beatrice Display by Sharp Type or Roba by Franziska Weitgruber. It's a total departure from the ductus that traditionally has informed letter shapes and their contrast. It feels like the next natural step for the grotesque genre.
Bw Fusiona is a megafamily, with 70 fonts spanning seven weights and five widths. Does designing such a large matrix of styles take a lot of discipline? I imagine that if you decide to change one glyph at a late stage it must involve a lot of rework.
It took a lot longer than a normal family, that's for sure – it takes a lot of discipline and focus. I started designing with eight masters in parallel, trying to control all the widths and weights from the very beginning. With self-initiated projects I follow the same approach as with commissioned work; I started with a handful of characters and didn't expand the set until I was 100% convinced they were right. Of course there's always a bit of fine tuning as you develop and test the typeface, but by working this way, I try to make sure those tweaks are minimal and don't affect features that will then translate to another 20 characters.
I always wanted to design a family this large from inception. I already had a go at creating multiple width families: Bw Modelica is available in four widths, but it was originally conceived as a standard normal-width family, adding the other three widths a couple of years later. With Bw Helder (designed in collaboration with Thom Niessink) we decided to stop at three widths with no italics. This time I wanted to push what I could do.
With such a flexible range of weights and widths Bw Fusiona should appeal to newspaper and magazine publishing. Did you have such applications in mind when you designed it?
Yes and no. I consider newspapers and magazines brands on their own, with very specific typographic needs, but I had a much broader set of applications in mind when designing and testing Bw Fusiona: from websites and mobile apps, to corporate body copy and billboard campaigns. The main idea was to provide plenty of flexibility while keeping a set of consistent visual traits. I hope designers can find value in what the typeface can offer them, whether it's a handful of styles or deploying the entire family.
ITC Avant Garde is definitely the go-to reference for anything geometric. I suppose you can never have enough geometric fonts in your repertoire, and we had never worked on one before. The brief was to keep the counters as round as possible and the apertures closed, while creating a font that can become timeless. In a way, we were restricted in how crazy to make the font, but we believe that we created something that evokes a contemporary feel within a classical genre.
Duplet and Duplet Open are almost twin brothers. The only differences are in rounded open letters like ‘C’, ‘G’, ‘S’, ‘c’, ‘e’, ‘s’ and numerals such as ‘2’, ‘3’, and ‘5’. The classical Duplet takes its cues from the very closed letterforms of typefaces like ITC Avant Garde and even the most popular grotesques like Helvetica. Characters like ‘C’ almost curl in on themselves to form what we call in typography closed apertures. Some designers really love this approach. The drawback is that closed letters impede legibility at smaller sizes, as a ‘c’ can be mistaken for an ‘o’.
I think Duplet Open is a bit more suitable to be used at small sizes than the classical Duplet because it features open apertures. Duplet Open’s shapes also might be appealing to other designers looking for a different look in their geometric font, a slightly less engineered look. We wanted to cover both bases as the design community can be very particular about their font choices.
The ‘G’ is very distinctive, and makes text in Duplet instantly identifiable. What led to that design of the character?
At some point, we realised there are not dozens but probably hundreds of other geometric sans serifs out there and needed a way to make this one stand out a bit. I have one mantra when it comes to making new fonts: “If it’s used on a large billboard somewhere, will I recognize that it’s my font?”. I guess the toothy ‘G’ and the flat bottom strokes on the ‘t’ and ‘g’ (which are curved in many other fonts) help with this recognisability.
Because of its large x-height Duplet is very readable at small sizes, but it’s also elegant at display sizes. What applications did you have in mind when you designed it?
From the beginning, we really wanted this typeface to be used for something tech-related: the ad campaign for the newest foldable phone maybe? Geometry and engineering go together, after all. Another great usage is packaging. The many weights and variable font allow designers to define the weight of the font to precision. Final answer: we’d love to have Duplet be used to brand a tech company.
Teja Smrekar and Jakob Runge – Grato Marker (TypeMates)
Our TypeMates library was missing a handmade but utilitarian design. A good approach seemed to be to add an informal voice to the super clean geometrics, Grato Classic and Grato Grotesk, to create a natural, organic, expressive, and dynamic voice. That's why Teja became involved, because she is one of the strongest in this genre.
Did you start by sketching the characters for Grato Marker by hand on paper, or was it drawn directly on-screen?
I started by writing letters with marker pens on different sorts of paper, and experimented with variables such as speed, pressure, and the intensity of ink flow.
I then switched to digital writing using a Waycom tablet with pen pressure; it was more convenient and produced results closer to the look we had in mind. I wrote several variations of a single glyph in Illustrator, picked the most appropriate one, and placed it in the font editing program.
I started with the light weight. The bold was added later, and between the two I interpolated the regular and medium weights.
I suppose it’s inevitable that Grato Marker will be compared to the ubiquitous Comic Sans, as they have the same objective of friendly but readable communication. Did you consider Comic Sans when you designed Grato Marker?
Comic Sans may be controversial, but the initial idea is great, and in my eyes the aversion to Comic Sans comes from the way that it has subsequently been misused by designers. However, we were more influenced by Segoe Script because it is gives a good sense of the flow of Greek and Cyrillic, even if we interpreted this basis much less handwritten.
Are there any plans for further members of the Grato family, such as a cursive version?
Yes, possibly a connected script could be an useful addition, but let's see how Grato Marker performs. With its Latin+Greek+Cyrillic language support, multiple figures, and so on, adding a new member to the Grato family is a significant undertaking.
What gave you the idea of designing Cosplay?
It was towards the end of designing Rauschen B. Cosplay is one of the few designs that evolved purely in my head. I had a loose idea of designing something different, organic shapes not related to any historical forms, which was like designing in a vacuum.
I started from there and I realised that purely organic shapes would be too one-dimensional, too illustrated. I needed something that would generate some tension within the design. So I decided that a grid-based approach would make the font more typographic and create more ambivalent forms.
Cosplay is an unusual font, and I can’t find anything similar on Identifont to compare it with. Were you influenced by any other fonts?
Mainly I was inspired by typography spawned by rave culture (mostly grid-based generic fonts) and organic shapes found in camouflage and artwork by Hans Arp.
When designing Cosplay I paid attention to the white space as much as to the black shapes. The counter forms play a huge role in the design.
Cosplay's rounded appearance makes it look friendly and approachable, so I foresee applications in product packaging and corporate logos; are those the sorts of applications you had in mind?
While designing Cosplay I never thought about possible applications. I was just curious where my loose idea of an organic ahistorical typeface would end up.
Towards the end I was experimenting with swashes. Tschichold published a selection of unsuccessful logotypes (see https://outofthedark.xyz/bilder/design/Cosplay/tschichold.jpg) which inspired me to add a variable swash feature to Cosplay, accessible via the OpenType Feature panel in Adobe applications.