Schwartzco / Stag Stencil

Cooper Hewitt / PentagramJune 12, 2014

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum today announces a new name and graphic identity, custom typeface and website to accompany the expansion of the museum, which will open to the public on December 12. Designed by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and team, the bold identity establishes a flexible branding system for the museum. Opara’s customized characters for the wordmark have been fully developed into a new typeface, Cooper Hewitt, created by Chester Jenkins of Village in collaboration with Pentagram.

Opara and his team worked closely with Cooper Hewitt and Jenkins to develop the identity. Located in the historic Andrew Carnegie Mansion in New York, Cooper Hewitt is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the group of 19 museums and galleries administered by the U.S. government. In a first, the new Cooper Hewitt identity has been conceived as a design that truly belongs to the people: The identity also exists as a new typeface that will be made available free to the public, who are encouraged to utilize it in their own designs. The font has also been acquired for the museum’s permanent collection.

‘We are spreading good design by making our elegant new typeface, Cooper Hewitt, available as a free download on cooperhewitt.org, as well as collecting it as an important example of the design process,’ says Cooper Hewitt director Caroline Baumann. ‘We look forward to seeing how the public uses this new design tool in their lives.’

Comparison of the final wordmark in the Cooper Hewitt typeface with the existing fonts Galaxie Polaris Condensed Heavy, top, and Galaxie Polaris Semi-Condensed Heavy, center. Comparison of the final logotype with the Cooper Hewitt Heavy typeface, above

Iconic, engaging and highly functional, the new Cooper Hewitt wordmark forms a perfect rectangle that can easily be scaled, positioned and colorized without losing its strong visual presence. There is an intriguing relationship between the words COOPER and HEWITT in the new identity: Set normally, the words are different widths. Here, each character has been tailored to help define the overall typographic frame. The wordmark has been expressly designed to serve as the basis for a wide variety of uses.

The identity establishes a flexible branding system for the museum

‘Cooper Hewitt’s new identity plays it straight, with no play on visual or theoretical complexity, no puzzling contradiction or ambiguity, no distracting authorship,’ says Opara. ‘Function is its primary goal, and ultimately the logo is important, but not as important as what the museum does.’

New Release: KommissarMay 15, 2014

Kommissar is Schwartzco’s latest — a streamlined sans in 3 widths, each with 7 weights: Kommissar, Kommissar Condensed, and Kommissar X-Condensed.

As part of his redesign of Fast Company, Florian Bachleda needed a condensed sans to complement the new general-purpose sans and slab families. Together, Florian and Christian Schwartz found a stripped down, flat-sided condensed sans in a German specimen book, with a distinctive ‘crotchless’ treatment for where the stems met the bowls in the lowercase. This family, called Vertikal and likely cut in the late 1920s, seemed to have some potential, but a quick digitization of a handful of characters showed that it was a little too dry and boring in layouts.

Florian and his design staff had come across the condensed styles of Paul Renner’s Plak, and asked if Christian and his design staff at Commercial Type might be able to synthesize a new condensed sans that had the distinctive traits of Vertikal, with no contrast and flat connections on the arches and bowls in characters like h m n r and a b d p q g; synthesized with the roundness and wandering uppercase crossbar heights of Plak. The Commercial Type designers figured out how to make this marriage of styles work, then expanded the family out to a full range of weights in three progressively narrower widths. In the heaviest weights, the family ended up with a taste of the future as predicted in the 1970s.

Typecache’s 20 Best of 2013 picksMay 14, 2014

Typecache has named six Village releases — Balto, the Domaine Superset, the Brooklyn Superset, Odesta, Ogg and Superior Title to their 20 Favorites fonts of 2013 (out of 550 new releases they featured in 2013.)

Typecache writes: ‘There were more than 550 new releases announced last year on TYPECACHE! So, it took us some time to review all of the great work from last year. We created another roundup of what we regard as the great typefaces from 2013.’

See all 20 Typecache picks here

2014 TDC Winner: OdestaMay 1, 2014

Odesta, designed by Ondrej Jób of Urtd, was one of the winners in the 2014 TDC competition.

The TDC writes: ‘There was a total of only 24 entries selected by the jury from nearly 200 submitted from 29 countries. These winners will will be included in the Annual of the Type Directors Club, Typography 35 and also included in 7 exhibitions touring cities in the United States, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.’

2014 TDC Winner: OggMay 1, 2014

Ogg, designed by Lucas Sharp and published through our Incubator foundry in 2013, was one of the winners in the 2014 TDC competition.

The TDC writes: ‘There was a total of only 24 entries selected by the jury from nearly 200 submitted from 29 countries. These winners will will be included in the Annual of the Type Directors Club, Typography 35 and also included in 7 exhibitions touring cities in the United States, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.’

New Release: MarignyMarch 27, 2014

Marigny, designed by Tal Leming of Type Supply, is a friendly typeface that takes its job seriously. It lives in the intersection of writing, lettering and typography. Technically, it’s a typeface, of course, but it looks like a very nicely lettered interpretation of a handwritten version of a traditional typeface. (Yeah, whoa.) Marigny has the same basic proportions as classic oldstyle typefaces like Garamond. These, combined with the hand-rendered forms, give blocks of a text a warm, inviting appearance. Plus, the soft forms look great in headlines and logotypes. It has small caps, swashes, ornaments and more. I had a lot of fun designing it and even more fun making graphic design with it. I hope you like it.

The family is named after a neighborhood in New Orleans. Wondering how it is pronounced? When I was growing up in Louisiana I always heard it pronounced as “mare-ah-knee” so that’s how I say it. It’s French. Or, at least it’s the South Louisiana version of French that I learned in school.

See Marigny here

Typographica’s Best of 2013: BaltoMarch 13, 2014

Colin M. Ford writes: Balto is designer Tal Leming’s reinterpret­ation of an American Gothic, a style of sans serif made popular by Morris Fuller Benton and the American Type Foundry. Just as Benton set out, with his ‘Gothics’ (Alternate Gothic, Franklin Gothic, News Gothic, and others), to cull the herd of discontinuous sans serifs that filled ATF’s catalog, Leming set out to make an American Gothic that emphasizes ‘the base ideas of the style rather than particular visual attributes, quirks or artifacts of bygone type tech­nologies’ that were added to previous interpretations.

Leming carries his American Gothic references right through to Balto’s website; its whirligig arrows and clever in situ examples liven up an otherwise serious typeface, placing it in a context reminiscent of the typeface samples found in ‘Big Red’, the 1300-page 1912 ATF catalog.

Balto’s origins can be traced back to 1997, when Leming found himself stuck trying to make a classic Gothic work as a text typeface for an annual report. He couldn’t find a single font up to the task, but the seed was planted. Ten years later he finally put pen tool to bezier and began drawing Balto, and on-and-off over the next six years the face began to take shape … or many shapes. To accompany its release, Leming wrote a fantastic blog post in which he thoroughly recounts the transformations Balto went through over the six years it was in development. (Note to self: this will be very useful to link to the next time someone asks me: ‘So, why do typefaces take so long to make?!’)

Ultimately, I think Leming and Balto succeed in getting to the root of the American Gothic style and updating it for the 21st century. The benefit of an American Gothic with eight weights and matching italics becomes immediately apparent when one tries to use Benton’s ‘Gothic’ types in a modern context. Need an italic for Alternate Gothic or a light weight of Franklin Gothic? Well, that’s just too bad. Benton’s Gothic types were never designed as systems the way fonts are today — thankfully, Balto was.

Balto is a great, utilitarian family suited for the everyday uses other sans serifs would turn up their noses at. Next time I need a workhorse American Gothic that actually gets down to business, I will certainly reach for Balto.

(By the way, Balto, one can imagine, is short for Baltimore, where Leming lives and Type Supply is based. His previous typeface, Timonium, is a town just outside of Baltimore. I’m beginning to sense a theme and, as a former resident of Charm City, I like it.)

See the review on Typographica.org.

Typographica’s Best of 2013: OdestaMarch 13, 2014

Dyana Weissman writes: I hate this typeface.

I hate it because I wish I had drawn it myself. But I didn’t. And even if I had, who is to say whose would be better? It doesn’t matter, because this is excellent, and there is no need to even try.

When in conversation with people who know nothing about fonts, once they find out about my job, they in­vari­ably ask what my favorite typeface is. I’ve always found that question to be awkward. It’s difficult to answer when one makes, but rarely uses, the thing under discussion. I feel like an asshole saying, “I like the one that I made for this well-known, high-end client” — it’s self-absorbed and pretentious. I appre­ciate a high-quality typeface, of course, but I’m not a graphic designer, so I have no reason to license one. In answer to this question, I usually just give the name of a typeface I admire to keep the conversation flowing.

But this… this is a typeface I want. And that is an incredibly rare thing. This captures what I would want for myself so perfectly (without me even knowing that until I saw it), that I have been thinking about it. In fact, I don’t want anyone else to have it. I want perpet­ual exclusivity. I know that’s silly (and expensive), and that Ondrej can’t agree to that now that Odesta is out there. I take solace in knowing that now everyone else can license it and put it on everything BECAUSE THEY SHOULD PUT IT ON EVERYTHING.

More specifically, I love Odesta’s perfectly round ball terminals. (I often make them in my own sketches.) They lend themselves well to the pochoir/stencil effect, but this is also a script, which is lovely. It has some beautiful curves. The ‘M’. The ‘k’. The ‘r’Especially the ‘r’. I make an ‘r like that in my hand­writing just because I love the shape so much. And, oh yes, that high contrast. So elegant! All of these ele­ments together should be a total mess, but here, they come together quite nicely. There is a bit of stiffness to it, but I know where it comes from, and I forgive it. What Ondrej pulled off here is pretty amazing.

Odesta is a little bit bonkers, and that’s why I love it. I could never truly hate it.

See the review on Typographica.org.