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Our latest release line up features a FontFont newcomer alongside one of our seasoned type pros. Introducing FF Quixo, a brand new design by Frank Grießhammer as well as new weights to the FF Profile family in FF Profile Thin and FF Profile Extra Light by Martin Wenzel.
“Quixo” is an onomatopoeic exaggeration. If you are a good listener, you will know that the word comes directly from the sound of dipping a brush into a bottle of ink. It is also the sound of that same bottle, dropping on the floor: “Quix-O!!”.
FF Quixo is a tool-based typeface family, based on the contrast of the pointed pen. Conceived from Frank Grießhammer’s graduation project at the Type and Media program at KABK Den Haag, the typeface is rooted in handwriting and explores the concept of increasing tool size in relation to weight. The visual influence of the tool is barely visible in the Regular weight, but more extreme in the Black one. The incorruptible result is a diverse spectrum of 12 styles (6 weights with Roman and Italic in each) suitable for compact and concise passages of text.
FF Quixo plays on various sides of creative type – headline and text, bold and fine. It is a typeface that can show a playful side without looking goofy and is equipped with all the features and considerations necessary to produce complex typography. It feels at home whenever a touch of personality, whim, and symbols are required, but also provides the necessary precision for more functional applications.
FF Profile Thin and FF Profile Extra Light are the latest extensions to Martin Wenzel’s popular FF Profile family. Made for legibility, the family of sans serifs unites timeless forms together for a contemporary approach. Where other thin type players stay typically cool, FF Profile Thin and Extra Light manage to maintain warmth with its truly humanist design charm and special stroke endings.
Thinly sliced (at 100pt, the stem weight for FF Profile Thin is 2 points, with horizontal strokes at 1.8 points), the new extreme light weights stand firm and individual at large scales yet are still very legible in smaller sizes. The two new feather-weight faces come with Italics and Small Caps plus Greek and Cyrillic support, making them versatile all-rounders and ideal for flat design (hello iOS) and graphics.permalink
The Serebro Nabora type conference took place this past week in Moscow. In the spirit of the event and as part of our recent Cyrillic updates for FF Mister K, FF Mister K Informal, FF Profile and FF Tisa Sans we asked the designers of these typefaces, Mitja Miklavčič, Julia Sysmäläinen and Martin Wenzel, about their experience with non-Latin extensions, as well as the difficulties they faced in these design processes.
Creativity and communication is always at the FontFont forefront along with the aim to build typeface collections with different styles and purposes. Cyrillic is one of the most used writing systems in the world and the alphabet has been adapted to write more than 50 languages. Of the many scripts in use around the world today, Cyrillic is probably the closest in appearance and structure to Latin, particularly in the case of upright typefaces. For Mitja Miklavčič, the design process was not significantly different compared with his Latin designs, as in the case of FF Tisa or FF Tisa Sans. “The italics were a bit more demanding to draw, and personally I always find kerning in Cyrillic a bit more challenging, too.”
Mitja Miklavčič began the Cyrillic portion of FF Tisa while studying on the MA Type Design course at the University of Reading. “We had some Cyrillic specialists visiting the Department. My initial sketches there were done for the serif part of the FF Tisa family. Although they were over six years old, they were a helpful start for the FF Tisa Sans Cyrillic.”
In contrast to Cyrillic type, Cyrillic handwriting is more abundant in its form variety. Julia Sysmäläinen’s primary challenge while designing FF Mister K Cyrillic and FF Mister K Informal Cyrillic, was how to interpret handwriting typographically. “Like all kinds of handwriting, Cyrillic handwriting can be very expressive. I had to find solutions that suited Franz Kafka’s manuscripts, which were always written in German. For this I studied both historical and contemporary samples of Cyrillic handwriting, asked Russian friends and colleagues to produce samples – and of course, I made many myself. Before 1907, Kafka wrote in a German Kurrent script, and analyzing this was interesting, because some of the letterforms resemble Cyrillic characters. I also found a prominent Russian contemporary with a handwriting style that fits surprisingly well to Kafka’s.”
Julia Sysmäläinen had always planned to make a Cyrillic companion to FF Mister K. “Kafka was strongly attracted to Russia, and he admired Russian writers like Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Kropotkin. Soon after the release by FontFont, I made a limited Cyrillic version of FF Mister K Regular to submit to the International Design competition “Modern Cyrillic”, where it received a Certificate of Typographic Excellence. Later, I went at the design more thoroughly, creating extended Cyrillic character sets for both FF Mister K Regular and FF Mister K Informal.”
FF Profile Cyrillic isn’t Martin Wenzel’s first endeavor into this writing system. “In 1992, FontFont asked me to draw a Cyrillic extension for my FF Marten typeface, which made me look closely at the script for the first time. The end result was no masterpiece, but still a good attempt to apply a simple modular concept to a different script. This was before I even studied Type and Communication Design at the Royal Academy in The Hague. With FF Profile’s Cyrillic, I talked with several designers about the script’s challenges in general, as well as specific letterforms. Over time I’ve consulted various books on the subject and completed my own calligraphic trials, which formed the basis for the structure of each glyph. If you can write it, you can draw it!”
Like Martin Wenzel, Mitja Miklavčič also had professional experience designing Cyrillic typefaces. He has previously worked with noted specialists, such as Maxim Zhukov. “I grew up in the former Yugoslavia, so I learned Cyrillic in primary school. Serbian and Macedonian both use Cyrillic. That might also explain why I’ve decided to draw language-specific forms for those two languages as well. I always consult with any other designers, no matter what type of type design project I work on. A few colleagues have become close friends in the process.”
FF Tisa Sans is unique in that it not only includes support for Balkan languages that use the Cyrillic script, but also many Central Asian languages, like Turkmen and Kazakh as well, which are not frequently a part of many Cyrillic typefaces.
While Martin Wenzel and Mitja Miklavčič are not native readers of the Cyrillic script, Russian is Julia Sysmäläinen’s mother-tongue. “I’m the child of a Russian mother and a Finnish father, so I learned both languages during childhood. As a native reader, you grew up with all kinds of Cyrillic texts accompanying your everyday life, everything from shopping lists to letters, notebooks and advertisements. You get a pretty clear feeling of how far and where you can move away from some kind of norm, without your result looking awkward. If the script is new to you, you run the risk of being overcautious, or making naive mistakes.”
In terms of OpenType features and character set size, the Cyrillics of FF Mister K are the most ambitious of FontFont’s new Cyrillic releases. “In Kafka’s manuscripts, readability was not a priority,” Julia Sysmäläinen mentions. “I carried this over into FF Mister K Regular as well. In its Cyrillic version, expressiveness and personality are paramount. Its style is easily readable for people who are at home in Russian and other languages with Cyrillic script, because context makes things clear, but it is not for learners of these languages. FF Mister K Informal Cyrillic is much easier to read, just like FF Mister K Informal’s Latin is. In Cyrillic handwriting some characters – especially д and т – can be written in various ways that do not really resemble one another; these forms can even be mixed within a single word.” This lively mixture is part of FF Mister K’s OpenType features, and it harmonizes well with Kafka’s turbulent manuscripts. FF Mister K Informal is more regularized, to stress readability.
As new communication methods continue to bring the world closer together, great typefaces have grown to speak for more languages and writing systems. FF Tisa Sans, FF Mister K and FF Profile join 30 other typeface families in the FontFont library with Cyrillic support, including FF Dax, FF DIN and FF Meta.permalink
Explore and sample FF Kievit and FF Kievit Slab in full flight at www.ffkievit.com.
To see more, go to our Behance page.
The first ever type conference to be held in Russia, the main goal is to provide an international platform for professional communication, the exchange of ideas, typographic and type design education and also celebrate new talent.
The sold out event will bring together typographers, designers, editors and publishers across various creative fields to the Moscow stage. Speakers include Peter Biľak, Eugene Yukechev, and Emil Yakupov.permalink
Super pleased to announce that we are sponsoring the Ampersand web typography conference in New York on 2 November 2013.
Ampersand NYC is set to be a great day full of nitty gritty details in all aspects of web typography. Presented by experts in typeface design, layout, typesetting, and front-end development, it brings together the industry’s leading thinkers and designers from across the worlds of type and web design with a speaker line-up including the likes of Jenn Lukas, Jonathan Hoefler and Christian Schwartz.
We also have a special offer of $100 off the standard ticket price.
Enter the code 'fontfont' to receive the discount when you register and purchase.
There are still are few tickets left so register now.
Your chance to be part of the Ampersand NYC!
To find out more and be in the running to win a ticket to the conference head here.
We are proud sponsors of the Ampersand web typography conference heading to New York on 2 November 2013 and one lucky type fan will have the chance to be part of the event.
To be in the running to win a ticket to Ampersand NY, simply share with us your favourite web FontFont in use. Please also include the URL the site of the font in use. Tweet us your answer and tag it with #ampersandconf by Friday 25 October, 4pm Central European Time (CEST).permalink
Every three months we name our highest climbing fonts in the popularity charts for the past quarter. We call these our ÜberFontFonts.
Seven years in the making, the striking and classic letterforms beautifully matured into a flexible and versatile typeface containing eight harmonized weights and an extensive character set. Additional language support including Greek and Cyrillic are also included. The top climber in the popularity font stakes, FF Sero has indeed proven to be every bit worth the while.
Mike Abbink is one of those rare designers whose careers successfully straddle the worlds of typeface design and graphic design — two disciplines that are actually further apart than most people think. He also straddles another chasm: the Atlantic Ocean. With strong ties to a Dutch heritage, being born in America has never kept him far from his roots, both physically and culturally. It could be argued that it is Abbink’s ability to draw from these diverse experiences that has made his FF Kievit thrive. It’s perennially on the list of FontFonts that are best known and used. Now the family has a Slab partner as individual yet interrelated as its designer’s divergent backgrounds.
Mike Abbink: FF Kievit Slab has its origins in early 1998 when Nike asked MetaDesign to revisit its original script logo and make a more modern version. One of my ideas was to use FF Kievit and add slabs to it. This was even before FF Kievit was even finished and a few years before its release by FontFont.
FF Kievit is rooted in the proportions of a serif and it only makes sense that it should have serifs and in this case slabs as well. This led to the exploration I did to determine what the slabs should look like. The obvious first sketches were straight forward Egyptian-style block slabs but these ultimately felt too clunky for FF Kievit. They needed to have some elegance and a finesse to match what I think is inherent in some of the typeface’s forms. The slabs have a heaviness to them but they also taper and have a subtle wedge-like quality in the ascenders.
When Method rebranded Autodesk they used FF Kievit as the corporate typeface but wanted the logotype to have something different about it. The designers had been sketching using slab serifs and it was only natural to try one with FF Kievit to keep the link to the typeface. This is where I really spent more time trying to determine what a FF Kievit Slab would look like and what changes needed to be made. Unfortunately, Autodesk recently changed the identity again so they no longer use FF Kievit or the logotype I did.
A few years ago the agency responsible for the rebrand of WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk, a German broadcasting institution) asked me if I had any slab sketches or serif sketches which I did have but were not totally worked out. This is when Paul van der Laan and I really started working out the details and presented to them what these could look like. Luckily for us, the WDR decided to go for it and we have spent many hours together designing the serif and of course finalizing what is now FF Kievit Slab.
Adding the weight of the serifs also meant that the contrast needed to increase. The horizontals and thin joints got a little thinner across all glyphs. In addition, many of the forms needed to be made wider and accommodate the slabs. You’ll really see this in the lowercase k, s, v and x for example.
FF Kievit underwent a painstaking transformation in order to
gracefully accommodate serifs.
Stephen Coles: So FF Kievit Slab began “way back” in 1998. In our rapid release tech startup culture it’s unusual to see creative projects with such a long timeline. What are the affects of a multi-year gestation on a design?
MA: The duration lasts long for me since I’ve always worked full-time as a designer working long hours already. You can imagine working the late nights and weekends can get exhausting. The ongoing years can affect the typeface but overall I would say very little. The early FF Kievit Slab sketches for the Nike logotype had a slightly different purpose than say the Autodesk logo which came years later. The prior was meant to connect to the original Nike script logo, so the slabs had round bottoms and it was using italic forms.
For the Autodesk logotype the letters were roman but in either case the top slabs were already pretty much defined and they in turn defined the bottom later on. I knew early on that I did not want the slabs to be straight up block serifs. They needed to have a bit of finesse and continue the inherent humanist qualities that FF Kievit already had in it. If I continued exploring too much it would extend my already very long design process as it is.
SC: Commissions and special requests often lead to new typeface designs. Since FF Kievit Slab began as the answer to specific needs (from Nike, Autodesk, WDR) I wonder how much they are responsible for this design’s existence and how they influenced the final product.
MA: In all the above mentioned cases FF Kievit (sans) was a finished design with an already strong vision for what it should be moving forward. I always wanted it to have a slab and serif (oldstyle) as part of the family. The Nike exploration was done even before FF Kievit was finished. The slab version was sketched out and pretty refined but across a limited amount of glyphs. The slab got more refined years later when Paul and I began the development on the WDR project three years ago. Early decisions like increased contrast and width adjustment were fairly obvious and took a lot of time getting right across all the weights. We also have different designs for certain characters in the bolder weights. But we really got excited when the WDR asked to add a serif to the mix. I knew my earlier sketches were not right yet and this gave us an opportunity to really develop the serif properly along with refining the slab.
The serif as a whole really went through a change from my original sketches, and that’s when Paul van der Laan and I got a chance to collaborate more than ever. It also influenced some decisions that required adjustments made in the slab version, like the bottom of the leg in the capital ‘R’. It was a great project because we were able to really focus on extending the FF Kievit family the way I had always envisioned it to be. I definitely look forward to finishing FF Kievit Serif because to me it represents my end goal of FF Kievit as a type family after well over a decade in the making.
SC: What are other catalysts for new designs?
MA: It varies a lot for each typeface I’ve been working on. For FF Kievit it was finding that spot on the scale that was somewhere between Frutiger and Garamond. For Brando, which will be released with Bold Monday in the next few months, it was trying to think of what a contemporary serif might and should be and balancing humanist and mechanical traits within each letterform. FF Milo was also meant to be universal, contemporary but very compact, with very short ascenders and descenders. Each project has a different set of goals, whether it’s my personal typefaces or commissioned ones for clients.
SC: Some type designers work best in isolation and find it very difficult to work with other designers on a single typeface beyond quick auxiliary feedback, but it seems like you and Paul van der Laan collaborate in a deep way. How did this partnership begin?
MA: I think collaborating with the right people is great and makes for stronger results. Paul and I started working together when Autodesk asked me to make additional light weights and also Greek and Cyrillic for FF Kievit which they were using as part of their new corporate redesign Method was responsible for. This was a pretty big project and I was super busy at work as a design director at Wolff Olins. The light weights were the first phase and that’s where I gave a lot of feedback, but Paul was able to tackle the project and really own most of the development, especially the Greek and Cyrillic. We again worked together in a similar fashion to add three additional light weights for FF Milo.
By this time we had a great working relationship and started a friendship that has been going on for over ten years. Paul also helped with FF Milo Serif on spacing, kerning and interpolations, as well as collaborate on NBCU Rock for NBCUniversal along with Pieter van Rosmalen. We are now all three working together on extending the GE Inspira family.
SC: How do you divide the workload? What are your respective strengths?
MA: It’s different for each project. For the FF Milo weight extensions (FF Milo 3) it was mostly Paul, but for FF Milo Serif I drew the forms and Paul helped refine spacing and kerning, and interpolate the additional weights. It’s a lot of work and he is better at it than I am anyway. In the case of FF Kievit Slab we divided and conquered. For instance, I started work on Regular and Black and then Paul jumped in on the Black and continued with Black Italic. We pass the weights back and forth until all the glyphs and refining is done. Then Paul really owns the files and does interpolations, final spacing, and kerning. We look at proofs together until we feel all the details are covered. It’s real team work, immersive collaboration. I prefer to work that way.
SC: FF Kievit (and the Slab) feels like it has a strong Dutch influence. Does that seem true to you? What does that come from?
MA: I would say it’s both American and Dutch! I’m a first generation American from parents who are both Dutch. I have been going there my whole life since the rest of my family lives there, and my Mom even moved back to Amsterdam seven years ago. This background plus my design education has definitely influenced my design taste and sensibilities. I also learned early on in school about the great history of Dutch type design, as well as the new generation that has developed over the last two decades. FontShop International (with its roster of Dutch designers like Martin Majoor, Evert Bloemsma, Erik van Blokland and Fred Smeijers) also attracted me early on and I wanted to be part of that by trying to make typefaces that were well crafted and functional.
SC: Of course FF Kievit Slab is more than FF Kievit with slab serifs attached, and readers can see evidence of that in the samples. The most obvious adjustment made to the new family is the opening of apertures to make room for the serifs. But I noticed other lettershape changes too, such as a smaller upper bowl on the ‘g’. What accounts for that? What other structural changes did you make?
MA: After FF Kievit was released in 2001, the larger upper bowl in the lowercase ‘g’ started to stand out a bit too much to me. This was primarily in the lighter weights. I’ve been wanting to change it ever since then. So the Thin and the Regular poles were adjusted to have a smaller upper bowl and I left the Black as is with the exception of making contrast adjustments. The sans version of FF Kievit is now updated with this new ‘g’, too. The counters in the slab got even smaller, so it was an obvious change I wanted to make. That’s the only real structural change to original FF Kievit shapes besides some problem glyphs like the lowercase n, k, v and x which lost their inside serifs to get some negative space inside the tight counters. The comma and parentheses are different, too. I thought the originals were too vertical so we used the ones from the italic.
SC: I assume you would call yourself primarily a graphic designer who happens to also design type. How does the perspective as type user influence your typeface design?
MA: That’s a hard one for me. Recently I’ve been thinking of myself more a type designer caught up in doing graphic design. I hope to spend more time doing type design in the future. I do think my design thinking has influenced my type design. I tend to be very straightforward and minimal about my type just as I approach graphic design. FF Kievit, FF Milo and the upcoming Brando are great samples of how I try to reduce, but at the same time I like to maintain humanist qualities to showcase a kind of craftsmanship.
SC: Have you used FF Kievit Slab in any of your own projects yet?
MA: Not yet, but I plan to. I do find it weird to use my own typefaces, but I really like the Slab and the upcoming Serif which I think I’ll use a lot.permalink
We are very excited to be sponsoring the 57th annual Association Typographique Internationale conference. ATypI 2013 is taking place in the heart of Amsterdam city on the Dam square October 9–13.
The annual renewal of the international typographic community brings together typographers, type designers, historians, psychologists, programmers and graphic artists of the like.
“Point Counter Point” is the theme for the year, with the speaker bill including Irma Boom, Erik van Blokland, Albert-Jan Pool and Paul van der Laan. Keep an eye out for a few more familiar FontFont faces during the conference.
ATypI Amsterdam opened yesterday and will continue through to Sunday. You can see the full programme lineup here.permalink
Imagine a bar staffed by robots. Yes, robots are not unheard of, but it’s fair to say that three orange robotic arms that can mix and serve bespoke drinks in real-time classifies as impressive.
Cue in Makr Shakr. Unveiled at this year’s Google I/O conference, the fun, but serious installation and social experiment saw many a cocktail concoction crafted by three KUKA robots and delivered via a conveyor belt. And not to mention the elegant live digital tessellations of honeycombed data on-screen behind the “bar” and across mobile screens, keeping track of every shake and stir. People gathered with Makr Shakr app in hand, drinks were ordered, robots made and shaked.
The robotic bartending system was developed and designed by MIT Senseable Lab in collaboration with the Coca Cola Company and Bacardi Rums in partnership with Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and team, who were responsible for the identity, web application and data visualisation.
The design intent of the app was to match the agility of the robots, as well as the scientific, step-by-step process of assembling the drinks. Cue in FF ThreeSix. Paul McNeil and Hamish Muir’s experimental geometric yet optically balanced typeface embodies this sentiment visually and conceptually. On why it was chosen, Opara, lead Pentagram partner on the project explains – “It exudes technology and the future”.
FF ThreeSix is subtle and humanistic in an absurdly mathematical rigour. It has been sublimely applied as part of the Makr Shakr identity not just as an alphabet, but also shape and form. The beautiful lines, dots and sometimes blobs work seamlessly in large and small scales together with the organic and mechanical honeycomb system.
The beauty of the identity is not only in the conceptual execution, but is also in its application across the various platforms (desktop, web, app) and mediums (digital, motion, spatial). Opara and his team have played to the strengths of FF ThreeSix taking advantage of the distinguishing qualities between the various styles, mixing and matching them at different sizes and scales typographically and graphically.
The identity and application also demonstrates the versatility in the FontFont product offering and the benefit of having a library of typefaces available for multiple uses. The diversity in formats and licenses allows for more possibilities in application.
Male, Female. Bourbon, white rum. Lemon, lime, orange peel, mint. Mojitos or old-fashioned. Whether it be recipe, ingredient, drink or drinker demographics, or even what was currently on-drink-trend, the identity and data was magnificently visualised and optimised for the app and large screen display.
Makr Shakr is a fine example of possibility and how a typeface can work holistically to transform an identity.
For more on the making and shaking of the project head to Pentagram’s website.