Unfortunately, there is not much I could tell you about the design of the riveting new typewriter face called Pitch that Kris Sowersby has not already published in his extensive process notes.
That being the case, I’ll spare you the repetition and go directly off on an idiosyncratic tangent.
First, a brief homage to the typewriter:
Like the bicycle, the typewriter played a remarkably important role in women’s liberation. Wikipedia informs me (with ‘citation needed’) that according to the 1910 US census, 81% of the women who entered the workforce began their careers as typists. Fans of the popular television series Downton Abbey will recall the storyline of the redheaded housemaid, Ms Gwen, who is secretively learning to type via correspondence course in order to fulfill her dream of becoming a secretary.
Embrace designs that give a tacit nod to history without making contemporary words look like they’re wearing a cravat. Shift’s appeal, beyond utility, is a quirk of prescient timing and 2012 fashion.
We (re)prioritized lasting materials and so swiped older generations’ fabrics and waistcoats. Let us face the fact that fashion-conscious men overindulged playing tweedy dress-up this year. Likewise, certain type revivals arguably become overwhelming costumes. Young Shift’s antique form can switch playing Country Lord or Lumberjack. Prim, sharp Extralight or heaving Black weights offer that period breadth. Contextual alternates add spit polish. But the family seems a new inventive composite of choice Barnhart Bros. & Spindler aesthetics, duly name checked by Mickel. It is minted for fresh use, detoxed of olde-timey contrast ghosts and too-gooey bracketing.
Tal Leming has built a career on his ability to deftly turn both the geometric (United, Bullet, and Mission + Control, for example) and the lettered (Burbank, Baxter, and Shag Lounge) into well-balanced typographic forms that are aesthetically rooted in their source material but function flawlessly in contemporary typographic applications.
This is a design challenge that appears simple at first glance, but it can be an exercise in hair-pulling frustration to get the letterforms sitting comfortably in both worlds while betraying neither. Timonium brings these two sides — the lettered and the geometric — together in a design that achieves lettered warmth within a geometric construction. The design takes a style that I associate with a certain French flavor (the high-contrast sans serifs of Deberny & Peignot, in particular) and with Optima (sans entasis), looks to that style in non-typographic traditions, and merges its influences in a design that doesn’t reference any certain era, but maintains a distinctive character.
Emily Lessard, art director of The Aperture Foundation writes: ‘The Aperture Foundation has been at the center of photography for decades. We gave it a facelift in honor of its 60th anniversary. The brand was completely rebuilt: new logo, identity system, ephemera, and website.’
Reconstructing the Aperture logotype
Jeremy Mickel writes: ‘I worked with Aperture (the photography foundation, exhibition space, and magazine) to redraw their original logo. None of the existing Futuras were a good match, so I did a faithful reconstruction of the logo from an early issue.’
Reviving ‘Aperture’ magazine
In Februrary 2013, Aperture magazine relaunched with a stunning redesign by Village members Henrik Kubel & Scott Williams through the graphic design arm of their firm A2/SW/HK who collaborated with art director Emily Lessard to restore Aperture to its former glory. The resulting magazine, with its newly oversized pages, glossy objectness and all around gorgeous type (the magazine features Regular and a forthcoming A2-Type serif release) + image is stunning. On the redesign, the Editor writes, continue to assert itself as an object, through its tactile presence, dynamic typography, and high-quality reproductions — all housed in an elegant design geared toward both reading and viewing.”
In April 2007, I got a call from a favorite client, Michael Bierut at Pentagram in Manhattan, asking if I could come in to talk about a project for a new architectural development. The project turned out to be the Atlantic Yards project, a massive undertaking involving a sports arena, an office block, and hundreds of housing units, all designed by the great American architect Frank Gehry.
I was shown photos of the model for the project which included a wonderfully twisty and turny tower, a stack-of-blocks-block-of-flats, and an arena which looked as though it was to be covered with blue metal post-it notes.
Founders Grotesk was initially designed for headlines, but upon its first outing—in a newspaper—it was used at text sizes and performed rather poorly. The lighter weights were serviceable at best, but far from ideal. The bolder weights veer pretty close to disaster, almost clogging up completely. Perhaps with a bit of letterspacing and better printing it would only just be passable.
When Francesco Franci used Founders Grotesk (and Tiempos) for his wonderful redesign of IL: it was simply failing at text sizes with sub-optimal printing conditions. After discussing our options we decided the best fix was to make a text version of Founders Grotesk.
Please join us on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 6pm for a lecture by type designer and former Design Office member Jeremy Mickel. Jeremy moved to Providence in 2008 shortly after releasing his first typeface, Router, through Village. He’ll talk about the process behind that first design, as well as the origins of his subsequent releases Shift, Fort, and Superior Title—all started while at the Design Office. He’ll show how these self-initiated projects led to a full-time career in type design, and resulted in starting his own foundry and getting custom projects for Kraft, Etsy, ESPN, Weight Watchers, and more.
A geometric sans! with its basic structure inspired by some of our favourite hot metal fonts: Memphis, Karnak, Stymie, Scarab and Paul Renner’s Futura — Regular started as a slab serif font in late 2011, however I soon realised that it wasn’t going to bring anything particularly new to the faces already available on the market so my design was placed in a drawer.
Friendly neutrality: Jeremy Mickel’s background as a graphic designer can be quite advantageous as a typeface designer: If existing fonts aren’t quite right, he can draw one himself. In the case of Fort, Gotham might have been too round and DIN too strict. The result is a contemporary sans serif with slightly squared shoulders; neutral enough to stay discreet where necessary, yet warm and friendly to avoid being impersonal.