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Typographica’s Best of 2014: Domaine SansMarch 19, 2015

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Mark Simonson writes: I’m astonished by how quickly Kris Sowersby went from being a young wannabe on Typophile (where I first became aware of him a little over ten years ago) to becoming one of the most talented type designers working today. Domaine Sans is the latest in his growing list of handsome and well-made fonts.

The most fertile field in type design over the last decade or two has been the sans serif. But one subset that has been relatively neglected — the thick-and-thin sans serif — has seen some resurgence lately. Domaine Sans is a distinctive new addition in this small but growing subgenre.

You can get more detail on its backstory here, but he stumbled onto the idea when he lopped off the serifs of his earlier Latin-styled serif face Domaine. What he ended up with is basically a higher-contrast version of the classic nineteenth-century British Grotesque, but it’s not a straight-up revival. It’s more of a hybrid, taking historical models as a starting point for something new and different.

The display cuts take contrast to an extreme. With most types of this genre, the thin strokes are usually terminated with flairs, or even balls. But with Domaine Sans, they stay thin. This is tricky to pull off; Sowersby does it by curving the strokes inward, and I think this works well. The display cuts are incredibly beautiful. I especially like the script-like italic, complete with swash caps. They seem well tailored as an alternative to Didot for fashion magazines. In fact, the pre-release version has already seen this type of use.

As nice as the display cuts are, I think the text cut is more interesting and probably more useful. When I look at it, it seems like a face that must have already existed, except it didn’t. It has a sturdy, traditional look with a lot of character and appeal. The italic is a bit eccentric for a sans serif (especially those ‘x’s), but I really like it. I can easily see it as a more stylish alternative to Franklin Gothic.

Yet another new type release that makes me I wish I were still an art director!

Read the review on Typographica

Typographica’s Best of 2014: Cooper HewittMarch 19, 2015

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On December 12, 2014, the Cooper Hewitt reopened its collections to the public, equipped with a new corporate design by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and a custom typeface by Chester Jenkins, cofounder of Brooklyn-based Village. This new typeface rightfully bears the name of its owner — yet it is not exclusive, but available for free.

When taking a first close look at Cooper Hewitt: The Typeface, one cannot deny its strong family resemblance to Jenkins’ typeface Galaxie Polaris, specifically the condensed weights, released back in 2008 under the Constellation label at Village. This connection is rooted in the design process and an exchange between Opara and Jenkins. Polaris’ condensed weight was in favor for the museum’s new branding at first — with slight adaptations and adjustments — and soon Jenkins was commissioned to execute some of the “tweaking” himself. Ultimately the regular weight was too wide and the condensed seemed too narrow; a semi-condensed (beta version) resolved the matter rather swiftly. It seems likely that Jenkins would have continued to work on that font data; in an interview with Stephanie Murg, however, he pointed out that Cooper Hewitt was drawn entirely from scratch with Polaris merely serving as a rough guide.

A significant stylistic detail of Cooper Hewitt lies within the straight horizontal and vertical stroke endings (versus the angled terminals in Polaris). This modification becomes apparent most notably in a c e or s. Jenkins added straight segments to all letters with round shapes, a feature that provides an elegant feel overall (apparently this made the drawing of the italics “a nightmare”). Cooper Hewitt and Polaris share the same width in most letters (except for M and W); the tail in Q was changed to a straight stroke crossing the bowl, which is much more adequate for a static sans serif.

One of the important characteristics of this quality typeface is its availability as a free download; files for print, for web, and as open source code can be obtained through the museum’s website. In reference to the Latin proverbs e pluribus unum and ex uno plures, Eddie Opara pointed out in a talk at the Greene Space WNYC that “the premise was to define a system as one and then allow the public to take it and use it the way they want”. Consequently, the type’s admission into Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection was followed by its accessibility, encouraging the public to use and experience it.

This may not be the first concept of its kind, yet it is unusual and brave for custom type and it is rightfully a noteworthy face of 2014. Cooper Hewitt: The Typeface is a serious contemporary interpretation of the static sans serif with very little fuss. With the reopening of the museum — to the day 112 years after Andrew Carnegie and his family moved into the mansion — its typeface not only marks the institution’s visual identity, but is conceived as an artifact that “belongs to the people”.

Read the review on Tyopgraphia

Knud V Engelhardt Memorial AwardFebruary 11, 2015

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Henrik Kubel of A2-Type is the recipient of Knud V. Engelhardt Memorial Award, 2015. The award ceremony will take place in the Design Museum Danish Design Workshop on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 from 17.00 to 18.30.

The Board of Trustees write: ‘The letter, for Kubel, is an elemental form. The consistent focal point in his work is font drawing and layout. A font designed for a specific project always gives a new original identity and character for the specific task — no matter whether the scale of the finished project; be it a small stamp, a book, a website, an institution’s visual identity, a poster or a total exhibition design…. Kubel‘s design solutions combine a certain brash directness and boldness with a refined conceptual framework, strong design details and a strong relationship to the project‘s content.’

The Knud V. Engelhardt Memorial Award is one of the few Danish scholarships named after a particular designer and is given to a different contemporary design practitioner each year. The scholarship is named after a deceased Danish design pioneer, Knud V Engelhardt (1882-1931). It was founded in 1932 and has been given annually since 1933, to a designer who ‘has proven to possess strong design skills, preferably in the areas that constituted the core of KVE ‘s work: street furniture design for the home, tools, letterpress, type and textile design.’

Read on here

Communication ArtsJanuary 5, 2015

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Ogg, designed by Lucas Sharp, received the Award of Excellence from Communication Arts magazine, and it was featured in their 5th Typography Annual.

Communication Arts writes: ‘This year’s Typography Annual includes several firsts. For the first time, selection required a unanimous vote, a testament to the quality of submissions and the enthusiasm of our jury. Also for the first time, student work was welcomed to the competition, in its own category. Again, the level of quality was high, and the judges awarded 19 student projects a place among the 140 total projects selected.

‘Compared with previous typography competitions, this annual features an increased use of custom letterforms and hand lettering. Also in contrast to the last several years, where we saw the frequent use of just a handful of popular typefaces, you’ll see a greater variety of typefaces in use. In fact, out of the 119 typefaces featured in this year’s annual, only 5 are used twice.’

New release: QueueDecember 9, 2014

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Technology and humanity are becoming more and more intertwined every day. We are increasingly experiencing the subtleties of life through devices that speak the unsubtle language of 1s and 0s. We interact with these devices through an unnatural communication protocol that has quickly become second nature to us. I find this fascinating and I thought it would be fun to try to capture this aspect of the zeitgeist in the form of a typeface.

Queue is the result of this experiment.

Read on and see Queue here

New release: Domaine Sans SupersetNovember 9, 2014

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The Domaine Sans Superset, designed by Kris Sowersby of Klim, is a trio of contrast sans serif typefaces. Kris Sowersby writes: ‘Domaine delved into the unpopular Latin typeface genre. Domaine Sans is an exploration into another unpopular genre of typefaces: sans serifs with contrast. Sans serif typefaces with contrast are not very common these days. I suspect the spectre of Optima hampers their use. In my opinion, it’s the first cogent typeface with contrast. I think Optima is a wonderful typeface, but anecdotal evidence suggests it’s still quite divisive amongst graphic designers.’

Klim’s Domaine Superset, four individual typefaces, was published in 2013

Domaine Sans follows the similar structural logic as Domaine. Domaine Sans Display and Fine have exuberant detail and high contrast, whereas Domaine Sans Text is more robust and pragmatic for extended text setting. The Display and Fine Italic styles have swash caps alternates for all uppercase letters.

Typesupply + TypeNite / MICA September 22, 2014

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On September 22, 6:30pm, Abbott Miller, Tal Leming, Ellen Lupton and alums from MICA’s Graphic Design MFA program will explore type at work on page, screen, and the built environment; and celebrate the release of MICA’s new book, Type on Screen, and Miller’s new book, Abbott Miller: Design and Content.

Tal Leming is known worldwide for his frisky and functional typeface designs. Residing in Baltimore, he is the founder of Type Supply and the creator of locally inspired typefaces such as Balto and Timonium.

His type family United, created with House Industries in 2007, was inspired by military lettering and has entered pop culture as a commonly used athletic font (appearing on Fox Sports and elsewhere). Tal teaches typeface design at MICA.

See more over at typenite