News: Tagged as FF Utility
How does the extension of a font family influence the overall concept? Started as a graduation project in 2002, FF Utility was entirely reworked and expanded towards the end of 2014 with the addition of two new thin weights. We spoke to Lukas Schneider about his reasons behind the extension.
Designing a typeface seemed like an obvious thing for Lukas Schneider to do. During his studies they “were dealing with type all the time”, and he had six precious months to spend on his graduation project. One day Lukas found a notice from Linotype on the bulletin board (“it was like a revelation for me”): Akira Kobayashi was looking for a student assistant. “I immediately grabbed that note before anyone else could see it”. This meant Lukas enjoyed the mentoring from the famous type designer while developing Gazoline, the typeface that would ultimately become FF Utility. But after graduating “it laid around for quite some time”.
Lukas, does the name “Utility” have any deeper meaning with regards to the design?
“Not really. If I remember correctly Stephen Coles made a couple of suggestions for a name – to me Utility suited the design the best. Sometimes you approach this pragmatically. While designing I was reminded of those 50s faces seen on gas stations in the US. I found the image quite powerful. Unfortunately the name Gazoline was not available anymore – I guess it was already in use. Moreover, the aesthetics of the typeface had changed during the design process.”
Why this extension now? What was your motivation?
The extension – or more precisely the idea for an extension – was already floating around when FF Utility was released in 2008”. This sounds as if FontFont pushed you. “Well… yes.” (laughs) “For example they always want the four figure sets. We initially made five weights from light to black. Then I thought it would be nice to have something thinner for big headlines, or a condensed series. I did some tests in 2008, but these ideas ended up in a drawer. I felt it was time to pick those up.”
Lukas explains “Now I can concentrate more exclusively on type. I realized that if you don’t, it simply doesn’t happen. Otherwise your project lays around for so long that you start questioning every single aspect. Earlier this year I said to myself: ‘Now you do it’. It helps that the people from FontFont are always looking ahead. Ivo keeps asking questions like ‘what about adding Italics?’ and so on. So we created two light weights – I drew a very thin one, and then we interpolated the extra light”.
The process turned out to be surprising on a conceptual level. “It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Back then I didn’t plan those two thins. This means that if I had simply drawn them following the existing concept, the overall proportions would not have been harmonious. This forced me to go back and rework the proportions of the original fonts as well, which I had not intended. I never planned to even touch the old weights”. Lukas chuckles. “You start seeing things you never saw before. And then you don’t want to leave the characters the way they were. I think the adaptations have made the font family more modern, and the extension of the character set – for example the addition of small caps – has also made it more versatile.”
Lukas, why not an italic after all?
“When writing about FF Utility some people think it doesn’t need italics because you can use a heavier weight or small caps for highlighting. Now that the latter is also available you can use both techniques”. Lukas’ reasoning is pragmatic – and honest. “For me it was simply too much work back then. You must not forget this was my very first typeface design after all, and it was not planned to have them. Maybe I will add italics at some point”.
Do you think there is a tendency to do without italics? “When I look around I must say I haven’t seen see any trend of that kind. Even current monospaced typefaces tend to have italics.”
Lukas doesn’t exclude the possibility. “Design-wise the family certainly is geared towards it. Also, in general I am very critical about my own work. I invested a lot of time reworking FF Utility. These days users expect a typeface to have at least 16 variations. However I think sometimes less is more. It makes sense to publish the upright versions first before looking any further”.
“I guess the planning of the family was maybe a little naive back then. For future typeface designs I would also plan italics in the initial phase, or at least consider them and make rudimentary sketches.”
We could leave it at that.
Lukas Schneider seems to be alleviated. “It is difficult for me to talk about a typeface – or maybe especially this one.” With FF Utility Lukas made his first steps into type design, which at that time he approached “without any conceptual motives”, without considering specific applications, basically making things up as he went along. Interestingly enough, his FF Utility carries its name with appropriate dignity.
So what does Lukas Schneider do when he is not creating? He seems surprised by this question. “Oh dear… that has become less and less frequent recently. I like to ride my bike; a little more intensely than most people: I have a racing bike, but … hm … that is always really difficult”. I am not sure if he means “always” these questions, or “always” finding spare time, and I don’t want to torture him any longer. Lukas concludes: “I like crafting, upcycling bulk trash, a designer sofa for example – I recently rebuilt an old plotter. And beyond that… much of it has to do with letters anyways. I walk around with eyes wide open, taking pictures, collecting.”
We look forward to seeing him continue crafting and tinkering with FF Utility.
Thanks a lot, Lukas!permalink
A creative and contemporary sans serif, Lukas Schneider’s FF Utility has acquired Thin & Extra Light weights to its now seven weight roster. Both new weights are perfect for anyone working with larger text such as headlines.
The original design grew out of Lukas Schneider’s graduate thesis project, a small family of typefaces named Gazoline, designed while he was studying at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach (HfG) in Germany.
With its Thin to Black weights there is no real need for italics, as it is customary to use weight to create emphasis in this type of design—Bold for text set in the light weight, or Black for text set in regular.
Each FF Utility font contains four figure sets, small caps, as well as an alternate ‘a’ and ‘g’ to increase its typographic flexibility.
With the additon of Thin and Extra Light, the family now contains seven weights. Thin and Extra Light were designed to be set in larger sizes and work great as headlines or for display use.
Each weight has a corresponding set of arrows.
The alternatives of the ‘a’ and ‘g’ give you the option of a more streamlined look.
FF Utility Thin
FF Utility Extra Light
FF Utility Light
FF Utility Regular
FF Utility Medium
FF Utility Bold
FF Utility Blackpermalink
We are excited to introduce our final release of 2014! As usual it is jam-packed with typographic treats: From the revival of a hidden gem to new weights for a FontFont favorite to a slab serif sister for one of our most in-demand typefaces. And if this wasn’t enough, our newly updated Web FontFonts raise the bar for enhanced web typography again.
First off, we welcome FF Bauer Grotesk – the highly anticipated revival of the Friedrich-Bauer-Grotesk typeface – originally released in 1934 by the Hamburg-Altona-based foundry, J. D. Trennert & Sohn. Friedrich Bauer designed his Grotesk with a nod to famous German designs such as Futura, Erbar, Kabel and Super Grotesk; its geometric construction is infused with a touch of Art Deco. Fast forward eighty years to Thomas Ackermann and Felix Bonge’s warmer and more homogenous adaptation FF Bauer Grotesk. It is ideal for those looking for something with historical weight to use across editorial, packaging, publishing, and ephemera.
FF Milo Slab is the newest member of Mike Abbink’s FF Milo super family. Singularly distinct and yet reassuringly solid, the slab retains many similarities of its sans and serif counterparts,but has undergone a wide range of careful adjustments from increased contrast, longer ascenders and descenders and modified glyphs in the heavier weights. All of these changes amount to a typeface that feels like FF Milo but with an identity of its own. The result of several years development between FF Milo designer Mike Abbink and Jesse Vega, FF Milo Slab comes with similar features to its siblings including nine weights, small caps, old style, lining, and tabular figures as well as some alternative glyphs to mix it up.
A perfect workhorse typeface suitable for headlines, posters/banners, magazines and advertising.
A creative and contemporary sans serif, Lukas Schneider’s FF Utility has acquired Thin & Extra Light weights to its now seven weight roster. An extremely legible typeface, FF Utility sets a mean line of text and can be used for almost anything. Both new weights are perfect for anyone working with larger text such as headlines.
New Functionality: Web FontFonts with OpenType Layout Features
We are delighted to announce that as of today the majority of our Web FontFonts now include OpenType Layout Features. This means that you can spice up your web identity through the magic of ligatures, stylistic alternates, figure sets, fractions, small caps and even swashes (if available in the font). With these advanced typographic features, specifically built for the web and supported by all desktop browsers (except Safari), OpenType gives you endless opportunities to bring online type to life. See them in action on our microsite and watch the video we created in collaboration with Stark Films.
What’s more, we’ve streamlined and improved our webfont formats and fully updated the free Subsetter tool so that you can customize your Web FontFonts for optimum performance.permalink
From the images of Lukas in his home it is clear to see how his lifestyle transcends into his type design. Contemporary, creative and clear are descriptions that can be applied to both Schneider’s typeface and home, showing that in this case life truly reflects art!
Photography by Max Zerrahn.permalink
FontFonter.com is an innovative web tool by FontFont that lets you temporarily replace a site’s fonts with Web FontFonts. With the new FontFonter Bookmarklet you can try Web FontFonts on any website! Installing it is easy: simply drag the bookmarklet on FontFonter.com to your bookmarks toolbar.
Here are the latest Web FontFonts to be added to FontFonter.com:
- FF Sero
- FF Tundra
- FF Nuvo Mono
- FF Info Text
- FF Info Correspondence
- FF Info Display
- FF Profile
- FF Utility
- FF Zwo Correspondence
Every now and then we are asked for typefaces containing alternative characters – the first letter of the alphabet is especially interesting in this respect as the Latin script knows two forms of the lower case a: the double-storey a is one of the most distinctive letters in a typeface while the single-storey a is rather neutral and decent. So you can considerably change the character of a typeface by simply swapping just one letter.
Thanks to OpenType both forms can be contained in one font and the user can easily switch between the two forms (in applications that support OT layout features, like Adobe’s Creative Suite for instance). Many of the innovative FontFonts offer this opportunity:
- FF Advert
- FF Basic Gothic
- FF Chambers Sans
- FF Dagny
- FF DIN Round
- FF Duper
- FF Jackie
- FF Karbid Slab
- FF Karbid Text
- FF Lance
- FF Nuvo
- FF Nuvo Mono
- FF Profile
- FF Schulbuch Nord
- FF Super Grotesk
- FF Unit
- FF Unit Rounded
- FF Unit Slab
- FF Utility
- FF Zwo
FontFont designers have been recipients of prestigious type design awards, but few can claim to have been even before their creations were officially published. Ludwig Übele’s FF Tundra — a recipient of a Certificate of Excellence in Type Design at this year’s TDC2 competition — is now available for licensing. Other new releases are Jörg Hemker’s versatile sans FF Sero; the informal cousin of the popular FF Mister K; a monospaced variant for FF Nuvo; and stencil versions for the Danish sans/serif type system FF Signa.
The new designs
FF Sero – Jörg Hemker’s versatile sans FF Sero combines the striking forms of an American grotesque with the legibility of a humanist sans serif typeface. It has open contours, a distinct x-height and a homogeneous grayscale value. During seven years of development the classic letter forms have matured into a balanced, sovereign typeface. Eight harmonized weights and an extensive character set allow for a flexible and versatile typography. Cyrillic and Greek characters provide an extended language support.
For a limited time, FF Sero Medium is available for free download in OT, Offc and Web formats. Download it on the Goodies page.
FF Tundra – Ludwig Übele’s award-winning design FF Tundra is a narrow serif typeface with stressed forms and soft contours. The idea evolved from investigating how a narrow typeface should look for optimal readability. To avoid a fence-effect, FF Tundra emphasizes the horizontal line. Ludwig Übele combined strong serifs, flat shoulders (see n) and open but heavy endings (see a, e, c) with a moderate contrast to achieve a balanced, legible typeface with a certain softness and humanity. FF Tundra has been designed for continuous text, but is also suitable for magazines and headlines (especially the Extra Light) and will surely work in newspapers as well. The family consists of six weights from Extra Light to Bold, each with Italics and Small Caps and many OpenType layout features.
FF Mister K Informal
FF Mister K Informal – This new design by Julia Sysmäläinen is the latest offspring of the FF Mister K font family. It began in one of Kafka’s Quart Notebooks with handwritten texts that look astonishingly clear. The letter forms are carefully placed line after line but still reveal the author’s characteristic writing style. There is a simple explanation: These are final, rewritten texts. The first version — loaded with heavy editing and correction marks — can be found elsewhere in Kafka’s literary remains. The strong personality of FF Mister K is often appreciated, but some designers find it too unpredictable for down-to-earth target groups. So enriching the K Family with a clear, friendly looking member derived from Kafka’s stylistic repertoire seemed predestined by the users’ needs.
FF Nuvo Mono
FF Nuvo Mono – Siegfried Rückel expands his magazine typeface FF Nuvo with a monospaced variant for all weights, including Small Caps and Italics. This offers new options for traditional and unusual designs. The design retains its stroke endings with “chipped” corners, which make them appear soft when seen from a distance or in small point sizes, but reveal their peculiar forms at a closer look. However its x-height was lowered somewhat in comparison to FF Nuvo to emphasize FF Nuvo Mono’s typewriter character. The calligraphic touch in the characters a, g and y make this typeface stand out among other typewriter-like faces, as do the alternate characters for a, g, k, s and y, which add typographic versatility.
FF Signa Stencil/FF Signa Serif Stencil
FF Signa Stencil/FF Signa Serif Stencil – Ole Søndergaard’s stencil faces can be used to produce actual stencils, but more often than not they are selected for their unique aesthetic. It is fascinating to see how separate “floating” fragments combine to form recognizable character shapes. The way those letters are cut up gives a stencil design its specific character. FF Signa — a typically Danish typeface — is rooted in architectural lettering rather than book typography. This sans serif of concise letter forms and a minimum of detail joined the growing collection of sans/serif type systems when the serif variant was added in 2005. Now both versions are available as stylish stencil designs.
Updated and extended FontFonts
FF Info Text, FF Info Display, FF Info Correspondence Pro – Erik Spiekermann’s and Ole Schäfer’s FF Info Office is the typeface Erik Spiekermann himself feels should be more popular “because it works well on screen and is really cool but nobody has found it behind the larger FF Info Text and Display families.” It has been renamed FF Info Correspondence to avoid confusion with the Office font format. The complete FF Info family, one of the best wayfinding type systems, has now been upgraded to Pro language support and has been carefully fine-tuned.
FF Profile – Martin Wenzel’s FF Profile is one of the more beautiful humanist sans serifs in the FontFont library. This clear, uncluttered and attractive family based on the broad-nibbed pen was already available in OpenType Pro format. Its character set was expanded to include Greek.
New Offc and Web FontFontspermalink
These are the latest additions (release 44) to the FontFont library:
The latest batch of FontFonts includes three new designs: FF Polymorph™, an exploration of global forms in the foundry’s experimental tradition; FF Unit™ Rounded, in which our founder reveals the softer side of his “strict sans”; and FF Utility™, a hard-working sans serif for text and information design. Also new is an OpenType® version of FF Celeste® Sans and numerous character set extensions to FontFont favorites for multilingual typography. Scroll on!