New Additions: December 2014
2nd January 2015
We add hundreds of fonts to the Identifont database every month. Most of these are recent releases, and some are simply new acquisitions from foundries who were not yet represented on our site. Stephen Coles gives his take on the most interesting additions from December.
The last decade of typeface design was almost dominated by casual script fonts. Many of them are impressively complex, but too often emphasize elaborate swashes and ornamentation instead of a more routine but useful focus: the natural flow of a writer’s pen. Cortado Script does not fall into that trap. It was designed to be read, not to show off. In this case, the emulated tool is a brush — that of Swedish illustrator Cecilia Carlstedt. Designers Jesse Ragan and Ben Kiel judiciously balance irregularity with clarity, producing a font that looks good and reads well, while maintaining the charm of the original lettering. Cortado is not without features, but each one serves to improve legibility and authenticity rather than decorate the page.
FF Bauer Grotesk is a revival that shows us there are alternatives to Futura that most of us hadn’t imagined, and many of them aren’t new inventions but rather metal fonts that were issued right on the heels of Futura itself. FF Bauer Grotesk (designed in 1934 by Friedrich Bauer, so not to be confused with the Bauer foundry) differs from other pre-war Geometrics in its subtle peculiarities: a high-waisted ‘G’ and ‘R’, a splayed ‘M’, an angle-topped ‘t’, and ‘S’s that end with a vertical sheer. These small eccentricities lend it a less predictable, “vintage” quality not unlike its contemporaries — Futura, Erbar, and FF Super Grotesk — as opposed to the regimented and normalized geometry of modern-day designs.
I have always been a fan of the bizarre, buxom shapes found in François Boltana’s Stilla, and it’s no secret that Vassil Kateliev leaned heavily on that typeface (along with the work of fellow Bulgarian Milka Peykova) for his Callista. Kateliev tames some of Stilla’s most outlandish glyphs and reduces the contrast, making the type work at midrange sizes — but overall it feels like a lost opportunity. I’m still waiting for someone to turn Stilla into a workable display family, perhaps of multiple weights, without draining it of its soul. Perhaps the closest thing to a family with Stilla’s frenzied spirit is Ondrej Jób’s Odesta.
Lunica is a quaint, rounded sans adorned with serifs that designer Thomas Hirter calls “geometric quarter circles”. The effect is an unusual mix of a template or engraver face like Gravur Condensed or Naiv Text, and an ornamented 19th-century Tuscan like Brevier Viennese. It’s difficult for me to imagine a place where this combination of ideas might be useful, but I’ll hand it to Hirtler for his originality. The lighter weights are more successful — Medium’s heavy joints are hampered by lack of optical correction and the serifs are overwhelming at that weight.
Sold exclusively on his own site, and mostly unknown outside his native Bavaria, Ingo Zimmermann’s fonts have flown under the radar. Charpentier Sans is one of his more advanced efforts, originally drawn in 1994 as part of Graz’s bid for the 2006 Winter Olympics. Like Optima, it is based on classical Roman proportions, but with more stroke contrast and sharper details. Thick-thin sans serifs, once a mainstay of early 1900s design, fell out of favor for nearly a century, but have seen a resurgence in several recent releases: see Condor, Timonium, Domaine Sans, Darby Sans, Beausite, and Granville.
Rowton Sans FY reaches back into Eric Gill’s typographic drawings and produces a more calligraphic take on Gill Sans. In some ways Rowton is more functional than the old classic: it offers small caps, two extra light weights, and a more harmonized set of weights, all with the same x-height and general structure (a product of digital interpolation). The release is a product of Fontyou, a unique collaborative concept which combines the efforts of multiple designers for each typeface project. To be frank, most of Fontyou’s output since its 2012 launch has felt unoriginal and rushed, perhaps the inevitable result of design-by-committee and a lack of high individual standards. But Rowton Sans hints that this Parisian group is maturing.