Best In Book

Our first Type Annual showcases excellence in international typeface design over the past year. Congratulations to all our winners and in particular to our four Best in Books, featured here.

Typeface: Karbon
Kris Sowersby,,
: Village,

Karbon is a geometric sans serif designed by Kris Sowersby, founder of Wellington-based Klim Type Foundry in New Zealand. “I’ve always been interested in the so-called ‘spurless’ genre of sans serif typefaces, geometry and humanism,” says Sowersby, who initially started work on the typeface a few years ago as a personal project.

“It’s an exploration of Paul Renner’s Futura concept channelled through the proportions of Eric Gill’s eponymous sans, with a slight nod towards Jan Tschichold’s Uhertype sans-serif.” The face was originally created “for use in the F-Secure brand redesign by the talented Muggie Ramadani,” Sowersby says.

Karbon is available in seven weights (hairline, thin, light, regular, medium, semibold, bold – each with its own italic). As with all Klim Type Foundry typefaces, Karbon is available exclusively through online foundry Village.

Typeface: Park House
Alan Dye, Nick Finney and Daniel Lock with Jeremy Tankard
Land Securities

Park House is a mixed-use building on the border between Mayfair and Oxford Street in London, set to be completed in late 2012 by Hamiltons and Robin Partington Architects. Design studio NB created the Park House identity and the marketing collateral for the development, working alongside type designer Jeremy Tankard who helped to optimise the bespoke font for use.

The building’s ribbed form and, in particular, the circular wooden artwork created by artist Walter Bailey, apparently inspired both the look of the visual identity and the resulting typeface.

“Working with a chainsaw and blowtorch Walter cut and burned huge slabs of unfinished wood into a great sculpture of concentric and overlapping circles that reaches from floor to ceiling,” says NB’s Nick Finney. “Together with the overall linear form to the outside of the building, this gave us the inspiration to start our drawing. We worked from there to create a display typeface with an almost 1920s elegance. Jeremy Tankard then helped us solve the trickier characters and assembled the font into a user-friendly tool.”

Park House was created as a custom display font, say NB, to bring a sense of unity, harmony and coherence to a wide range of materials; from print brochures and hoardings, through to various online elements.

Typeface: Retiro
Jean François Porchez
Madriz/Louis Tiar

Retiro is a bespoke typeface designed by Jean François Porchez for Madriz magazine, which is distributed in airports, hotels and elsewhere across the Spanish capital, Madrid. Published bilingually, in Spanish and English, Madriz is a lifestyle title and guide to life in the city aimed at both residents and tourists. Unusually, Madriz’s publisher, Louis-Charles Tiar, rather than the magazine’s art director, commissioned the typeface. “Madriz magazine wanted a stereotypical Didot as in the masthead of women’s magazines,” says Porchez.

“The result is an imaginary Castilian and Andalusian vernacular Didot, as these kind of typefaces don’t exist in the Spanish history of typography.”  Porchez named the face after what he describes as a “lovely park in Madrid”. “Retiro is a daring interpretation of Spanish typo­graphy,” he continues. “Severe, austere and yet, full of life.” Retiro is exclusive to Madriz magazine until 2015, when it will be available to the public.

Typeface: Rubal Stencil
Sébastien Delobel
Atelier Télescopique,
Tank Architectes

Designed by Atelier Télescopique specifically for College Claude Lévi-Strauss – a freshly built secondary school in Lille, France – Rubal Stencil is a single weight stencil face, inspired by the school building itself, which has more curves than sharp corners.

Commissioned by the school’s architects, Tank Architectes, the typeface was designed to be highly legible when used to set large bodies of text, and also for use in the building’s signage – the idea being that it could be applied to walls, the ground and glazed surfaces. As well as upper and lower case letterforms, and numerals, various OpenType ligatures are also available. The studio was also commissioned to create a set of pictograms to compliment the the typeface in the school’s signage.

Judges: Coralie Bickford-Smith, senior cover designer at Penguin Books, Typographic Circle chair, fellow of the ISTD and founder of Bateson Studio, John Bateson and typographic consultant, typeface designer, lecturer and author Fiona Ross. In addition, we also enlisted the expert help of Dr Mamoun Sakkal, Miguel Sousa, Maxim Zhukov and Adi Stern in order to assess the Non-Latin category.

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