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Today is the 130th Birthday of one of the most significant writers of the 20th Century, Franz Kafka. Although many of his works were actually published posthumously against his wishes, Kafka has become a highly influential voice in literature renowned for his exploration of the themes of alienation, transformation and brutality.
A person called K appears in a number of his novels and the manuscripts of Kafka’s two best known novels The Castle and The Trial were the source of inspiration for type designer Julia Sysmäläinen, creator of the typeface FF Mister K. Sysmäläinen manages to capture the essence of Kafka’s erratic somewhat eccentric script, whilst maintaining a balanced typographic rhythm. Part of the FF Mister K family, FF Mister K Informal has a slightly more friendly, readable appearance and FF Mister K Dingbats contains a wide range of pictograms, from animals, plants, stars, famous buildings, faces to food and much more.
Budnitz Bicycles is the brainchild of entrepreneur Paul Budnitz. His company creates super-fast, light and beautiful bikes made exclusively out of titanium. Set in Albert-Jan Pool’s FF DIN Web, the website is real eye candy for cycling enthusiasts.
Falmouth University based in Cornwall in South West England specializes in Art, Design, Media, Performance and Writing. Martin Majoor’s FF Scala family, including FF Scala Sans Web and FF Scala Web make an appearance throughout their website.
Klenk & Hoursch is a Strategic Communications agency based in Frankfurt am Main. They employ Xavier Dupré’s FF Yoga Sans throughout their site complemented by TypeTogether’s Adelle in the headers. Dupré’s FF Yoga Sans is a contemporary alternative to Gill Sans, and a sober companion to FF Yoga Serif.permalink
We are always on the lookout for ways we can improve our website and in our latest improvement we’ve combined our Browse and Find pages into one. So it is even easier to search our library and find the typeface you need.
Bringing together the best of both Browse and Find and adding a few more new features to boot, the new Fonts page allows you to search, compare and contrast our typefaces.
Here are a few highlights of the new way to find FontFonts:
You can now sort your search to view families and single products at a glance with just one click. You can also change the way you view the typefaces, so you can see what it looks like in longer text, in a list or just in the raster.If you’re looking for a particular language you can also search by language, just type in the language you need and and hey presto the fonts appear that support that a particular language.You can also order your search by intended use, by family size, trendiness, popularity, alphabetically, newness or price.Go on, have a play!permalink
‘You can make a beautiful book using only one style and one size of the typeface.’
Slávka Pauliková’s headstrong FF Dora is the newest addition to our library — A type family consisting of five styles; as the weights expand, the contrast increases but still retains the characteristic handwritten personality of pen-flicked strokes and culminates in its most playful face, FF Dora Display.
We spoke to Slávka about the making of FF Dora, where the name comes from and how her experience in book design has contributed to her type design.
The process behind FF Dora started out as a study of today’s handwriting styles and transforming them into a serif text typeface. For some the easier (or perhaps more obvious) option would have been to turn the handwriting styles into a script face. What was it that made you decide to explore the serif text form?
I had the idea in my mind for a long time, even before my studies at Type and Media began. I dedicated several self-initiated book projects to the topic of today’s handwriting and was fascinated by how everyone develops their own handwriting and how it differs from the form we were taught at school as kids. The results I came up with through my research were pretty interesting. Some handwritten letterforms completely change their forms from the handwriting of a grown-up person. People formulate their own visual language which is sometimes not readable to anyone else but themselves.
The 15th century typefaces are based on calligraphy and handwriting. There is a fascinating translation of the fluid calligraphic letterforms into a serif typeface which had to be designed because of the letterpress technique. My initial idea when I started designing Dora, was to explore the boundaries between the transition of a handwritten letterform into a serif typeface. After many trials and tests of combining handwritten letters with serif letters, I decided to minimize this relationship to increase the balance of the typeface. However, I think my starting point is still visible in letters such as the italic ‘k’.
The name Dora is derived from the nickname in Slovakian for a headstrong girl. Was there a particular girl or woman you had in mind when designing FF Dora?
Naming the typeface took me really long time and I actually named it at the very end of the design process, right before my graduation. I picked the name because it was short and clear and it suited the character of the typeface. I also find it fitting because I was quite determined to finish it the way I wanted it. Since I named the typeface after drawing it, there was no person I was particularly thinking of while designing.
FF Dora suits small sizes but its qualities and styles, especially the display style brings a certain playfulness to the larger text. Where would you love to see FF Dora being used?
I would love to see FF Dora being used in any kind of printed or web material. FF Dora is suitable for longer amounts of text, editorial design, non-fiction books, any selective types of reading … I designed the type specimens for FF Dora very simply without any graphic styles or colour suggestions. I am really curious as to how people will use it.
What has the experience of book design taught you and how has it fed into your own type design?
Editorial and book design taught me that the use of small type families is generally sufficient to achieve well-designed books. You can make a beautiful book using only one style and one size of the typeface. Except newspaper design, book and editorial design allow a typography in which small type families can play an important role. I am working with content-heavy books that need to have different levels of information emphasized typographically. Even a couple of styles or combining two different typefaces is plenty to distinguish different levels of importance in such books. I think this also explains why FF Dora is a small type family.permalink
We are delighted to announce that we will be sponsoring the third ISType Conference that takes place in İstanbul from 13 to 16 June 2013.
Over the course of four days, there will be a series of nine lectures and five workshops, all focused on the theme Stroke, which was inspired by Gerrit Noordzij’s book The Stroke. The speakers line-up includes the likes of Akira Kobayashi, Robert Bringhurst, Yves Peters, Erik van Blokland and Luc(as) de Groot.
You can still register for their seminars and workshops online, but hurry as places are filling up fast.permalink
The second Long Night of the Design Studios by Create Berlin takes place on Thursday, 6 June and we are delighted to be taking part with our office friends at FontShop Germany! Come along to Bergmannstraße 102 in Kreuzberg, Berlin (2nd Entrance, 3rd floor) from 19.00 – 23.00 to have a peek behind the scenes and hear about what we do.
Andreas Frohloff, the Head of our Type Department will be running an open calligraphy workshop from 19.30 until 22.00 (8 spaces available in rotation), you will also get the chance to hear from Christoph Koeberlin, one of our Font Technicians, about the production of a font and maybe pick up a FontFont treat or two.permalink
This month’s round up of our favourite sites featuring Web FontFonts including Travis Kochel’s groundbreaking FF Chartwell, Mike Abbink’s bestselling FF Kievit and Max Phillips’s elegant FF Spinoza.
Kerem Suer is a designer of digital products based in San Francisco and his portfolio subtly features Travis Kochel’s innovative chart-making font, FF Chartwell. Kerem uses FF Chartwell Lines Web on the contact page of his website.
The St. Gallen Symposium takes place annually in May in Switzerland and is a gathering of leaders organized by students from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. A number of weights of Mike Abbink’s FF Kievit Web appear in the headlines and titles of the site, including FF Kievit Light and FF Kievit Medium.
The Pitchfork Guide to Summer Festivals 2013 features Max Phillips’s FF Spinoza throughout the body copy and GT Pressura from Grilli Type in the headlines. Pitchfork is an online guide to independent music.permalink
Our feet have just about touched the ground since the wonderful whirlwind that was TYPO Berlin 2013 last week. So, we thought we’d share some snippets and snapshots.
Taking place over three days and reaching it's eighteenth year running, this year’s TYPO Berlin was one of the biggest yet with design superstars such as Jessica Walsh, Neville Brody, Albert-Jan Pool and Ken Garland.
This year’s conference also played host to the first ever Type Review that took place on Friday 17 May. Members of our official TypeBoard, Erik Spiekermann, Stephen Coles, Erik van Blokland, Andreas Frohloff, Jürgen Siebert and Ivo Gabrowitsch were let loose on stage to critique, commend and appraise typefaces in public.
We were also delighted to meet up with a number of our FontFont designers who were at TYPO Berlin.
The quality of the speakers was fantastic and highlights included Simon Manchipp and Neville Brody. There was a number of workshops to take part in, including Erik Spiekermann’s print workshop and the Calligraphy and Lettering Workshop by our Head of Type, Andreas Frohloff.
Based on a square, FF QType is the latest rising star of our library – our so-called ÜberFontFont for the past quarter.
Traversing the somewhat tricky balance between pure geometry and legibility, FF QType is the brainchild of Achaz Reuss. It contains a vast 20 styles comprising of five subfamilies (Compressed, Condensed, Semi Extended, Extended and Square) each with five weights.
Following firm rules, it is geometric yet optically balanced; the horizontals are thinner than the verticals. The E and C terminals are at angle giving the typeface a lively, more playful character.permalink
Our next TypeBoard takes place on Wednesday 15 May, so the time to submit your typefaces for consideration is fast approaching. But what’s it really like being a FontFont designer? We caught up with one of the newest designers to join the FontFont family, Travis Kochel (designer of the groundbreaking FF Chartwell) to find out about the path that he took to become a type designer and why he chose to submit his already successful typeface Chartwell to our library.
You studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, graduating with your BFA in 2008. What did the design curriculum there look like? Did you have a lot of typography coursework?
Typography was drilled into us. Even in classes not explicitly labeled typography, good type choices and typesetting practices were stressed. At the time it felt more like boot camp, and I actually tried to distance myself from it. It took a few years of real world experience to fully appreciate and understand the value of it. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it just sort of clicked one day, and turned into an obsession.
What inspired you to start designing type? Did your client work at Scribble Tone help while you started your first typeface?
At the time, my first explorations in type design felt more like a curious exploration of letterforms, and a way to take a break from client work. I think what keeps me coming back to it is a strong desire to control every detail of a project. Type is one of the most basic building blocks of a design piece, and there’s an interesting power that comes with controlling that.
You first released FF Chartwell in 2011 under the TK Type label and it was received really well. As Chartwell was already successful in its own right, what prompted you to submit the typeface to FontFont? Do you think it fared better as a FontFont?
Releasing typefaces on your own comes with self doubt, and the nagging question of how it would fare with the feedback and marketing power of an established foundry. After the initial success of Chartwell, I started working on a few additional styles of charts and thought it would be a great opportunity to see what someone else could bring to it. I’ve always had a great admiration for FontFont, and they’ve taken on many experimental releases in the past, so it seemed like a good fit.
Admittedly, I was a little nervous about making the transition, but it has outperformed my expectations by far. FontFont has really given FF Chartwell an amazing second life. I’m also extremely happy with the team’s solution for the web version. It was a brilliant approach to break free of the font format, and instead focus on the interface.
What was the main advantage working with FontFont? Would you publish future type designs through FontFont again? If so why/if not why not?
I will definitely consider FontFont again if I have a design that fits well into the catalog. The biggest advantage is the feedback and insight from the team. It’s comforting to have experienced eyes looking over everything, and offering outside perspectives. It’s also quite apparent that they care every bit as much as you do about the work.
The nuts and bolts of FF Chartwell’s features really push the boundaries of the OpenType format. Are you tempted to continue experimenting and pushing OpenType technology even further?
There’s a lot of opportunity to push OpenType technology further, and it’s definitely something I think about a lot. I haven’t quite found another opportunity where an OpenType solution makes sense, but I’m keeping my eyes open.
How do you spend your day? Can you carve out regular chunks of time for type design? How does your work/life balance look?
My schedule is very erratic, and it usually comes in weeklong chunks of time being focused on one thing. A rough estimate of my time in the past year:
Chicago, New Zealand, Portland … you seem to get around a lot! Do you think that your geographic location feeds into the results of your design work?
The designers and community in each city have definitely influenced the way I think about and approach design. It brings new ideas and perspectives, but also forces you to think about where you stand on those issues.
What’s next for you? Do you think you will release another typeface in the near-future?
Type design will definitely continue to be a large part of my future. But I also really enjoy having a variety of types of projects to work on. It keeps the days interesting, but also brings new perspectives. FF Chartwell was one of those moments where two seemingly unrelated fields of design happily overlapped.
If you could offer a single piece of advice to an aspiring type designer, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just be sure to learn from them, and keep an open ear to feedback, even after releasing.