New type: Google Fonts, Hobo Rococeaux, Johnston100 and more…

Our latest pick of new type designs and projects includes a redesign of Google Fonts, a remastered version of TfL’s Johnston typeface, an intricate illustrated A-Z by Rebecca Strickson and an ornate display face combining Hobo and Rococo lettering

Google Fonts redesigns

Google Fonts – an online library of open-source, free to use fonts – has been redesigned based on the company’s material design guidelines. The site aims to make it easier to browse the site’s 800-plus families and allows users to organise them based on popularity, location and what’s trending. Font pages feature profiles of foundries and designers alongside stats on usage, while a featured section of the site presents thematic collections such as headline-worthy serifs or multi-script typefaces. The new type specimen tool allows users to play with colour, size and pairings, and a flexible grid design adapts to different types of content while maintaining a consistent column gap.

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Space Mono by Colophon, created for Google Fonts
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Google Fonts’ new layout

“One of our foremost goals with the redesign was to make Google Fonts a more visually engaging design resource,” writes Yuin Chien, a designer at Google, in a post on the Google Design blog explaining the redesign. The site launched last week with three new additions to its library: Scope One, a light slab serif from Dalton Maag, Bungee, a design inspired by urban signage and drawn by David Jonathan Ross with Font Bureau, and Space Mono, a monospaced family from Colophon. Google has also released an animated video to promote the site’s new look:

Marbles – a type experiment from Superfried

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Marbles by Mark Richardson

For anyone who played with marbles as a child, Mark Richardson’s latest type experiment will bring back some fond memories. The founder of design studio Superfried has created a series of swirling letterforms which resemble the internal patterns found in traditional glass marbles.

The project was inspired by an unused design for a client brief, a set of 3D numbers with “a slightly organic centre” (see 100 visual below). “This route was relegated from the process. [But] this idea still had potential, so I took everything back to flat 2D and started to develop a complete set of numerals,” says Richardson. “It was here that the forms started to become more intricate and a reminiscence to the internal patterns of classic marbles emerged.”

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Marbles by Mark Richardson

Richardson has since created a set of 2D and 3D letters and numbers and a typographic record sleeve for this year’s Secret 7″, shown above.

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3D letterforms created by Richardson using Cinema 4D

Rebecca Strickson’s illustrated A-Z

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Image courtesy of Rebecca Strickson

Illustrator Rebecca Strickson spent months creating this intricate alphabet after working on a set of Tarot Cards for Agent Provocateur. Letters are beautifully detailed and draw on Renaissance, medieval and Celtic imagery.

“I really got into pattern and abstract lines, probably as a reaction to all the portraits I’d done,” she says. “I really enjoyed being intricate in a different kind of way to what I was used to, really taking time over each and every circle and dot and line. It was really nice to work on something that to me, is totally about surface.

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Image courtesy of Rebecca Strickson

“However, I’ve gone through a lot of research from patterns that do mean something more than surface – Celtic, medieval French, Renaissance, Egyptian … so they’ve got a meaning of their own I guess, some kind of bastardised world symbolism.” Strickson hasn’t decided if or how she will use the letters – “I’ve not thought of it. I just like them existing like little microcosms of type,” she adds.

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Image courtesy of Rebecca Strickson

Commercial Type – Le Jeune

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Le Jeune, by Commercial Type

Commercial Type has released Le Jeune, a modern adaptation of nineteenth century French modern serifs originally created for Vanity Fair in 2013. The typeface was commissioned by design director Chris Dixon as part of a refresh of the magazine: “Rather than undertaking a major redesign … [Dixon] retained the visual identity of the magazine while steadily improving the sections and navigation and refining the established aesthetic,” explains Commercial Type. “Part of this evolution was commissioning a new display typeface to replace the various Didots the magazine had long been using.”

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Le Jeune, by Commercial Type
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Gred Gazdowicz’s stencil versions of Le Jeune, by Commercial Type

Schwartz and Barnes enlisted the help of designer and type historian Sébastien Morlighem to source historical references and used a type specimen by Parisian punchcutter Joseph Molé Le Jeune as their primary source of reference.

The typeface combines elements of French neo-classical design, and the idiosyncracies of Molé’s specimen with more contemporary features – “where the French moderns typically feature soft teardrop forms, Le Jeune features sharp, round ball terminals more typical of both the nineteenth century in Britain, and the later interpretations of these types for Photo-Lettering, Inc. and its contemporaries in the US in the middle of the twentieth century,” says the foundry.

It’s available in four sizes and larger sizes come in six weights. Designer Greg Gazdowicz has also added a stencil version for each size, inspired by Modern-style stencil letters found throughout France.

You can read more about the design process on Commercial Type’s blog.

Hobo Rococeaux, by Oh No Type Co

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Hobo Rococeaux, by Oh No Type Co

Last year, Oh No Type Co. founder James Edmonson created a modern adaptation of curvy descenderless typeface Hobo. This month, he released a new design which combines Hobeaux with Photo Lettering designer Paul Carlyle’s “absurdly intricate” ornate typeface, Carlyle Rococo.

Creating the typeface was a painstaking process – “many typefaces can be somewhat componentized [sic]—there are serifs, stems, bowls, or other features that can be copied and pasted, or otherwise shared between glyphs. Unfortunately for the batteries in my mouse, this was not the case with Hobeaux Rococeaux. Most characters needed to be drawn from scratch, scanned, vectorized, and tweaked one by one to produce adequate results,” explains Edmonson in a blog post on Medium which outlines his process. “The sheer amount of bezier drawing encouraged a re-evaluation of the character set. Thus, the lowercase was ditched,” he adds.

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Hobo Rococeaux with borders
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Hobo Rococeaux, created by designer James Edmonson

With a limited knowledge of coding, Edmonson says he used Drawbot to create a set of 25 borders that can be typeset to suit any word or phrase. “The borders automatically adjust to fit the size of the word or words, and once you’re satisfied, Drawbot can generate PDFs that can be further manipulated in the graphics application of your choosing,” he explains. An additional design, Hobeaux Sherman (named after type designer and historian Nick Sherman), was created for use at much smaller sizes.

Edmonson says he hopes the typeface will be used in unexpected ways—”This miniscule drop in a sea of type will almost certainly not be a best seller, but it can perhaps show that the horizons in type are more vast than one might think. We are only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is possible, especially with typefaces for display,” he says.

“To those that say, ‘James! You have wasted a lot of time here. Your typeface is hard to read!’ Remember, it is not a matter of whether or not they can read it, it is a matter of whether or not they want to.”

Monotype remasters TfL’s Johnston typeface

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Johnston100 by Monotype for TfL

Edward Johnston’s iconic typeface for the London Underground has been remastered by Monotype, with two new weights and new characters added to create a more versatile design.

“We didn’t want a redesign, but we did know that certain things had changed [since Johnston created the typeface in 1916],” explains Jon Hunter, head of design at TfL. “Some of the lower case letters, for example, had lost their uniqueness. As social media has become more important, hashtags and at signs are more important – Johnston never designed those because they were never needed. Mainly we wanted to make Johnston relevant and fit for today’s purpose,” he adds.

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Working from archive material and original drawings, Monotype type director Nadine Chahine and senior type designer Malou Verlomme expanded the typeface’s character set to include more accented letters, allowing TfL to communicate in a wider range of languages. The typeface has also been made wider “to give a more relaxed feeling, and calling back to Edward Johnston’s original drawings,” says Monotype.

The typeface will be applied to Tube maps and posters from July and will be used on TfL trains and station signage for London’s new Crossrail Elizabeth line. Monotype has also created a limited edition poster and released a video explaining the project in more detail:

Hype for Type updates with 8,000 new fonts

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The new, responsive Hype for Type website

Alex Haigh has launched a new version of online font shop Hype for Type, adding 8,000 new fonts to its collection along with 20,000 @font-face webfonts. New features include a Wishlist allowing users to curate their favourite products, simplified licensing options and a Fonts in Use gallery showcasing work which features Hype for Type releases. The new site is fully responsive and Haigh says the aim was to create a site that is “technically as strong” as mainstream font retailers. “I put emphasis not only on the type itself, but on the design and visual aspect,” he says.

O Street’s custom font for Last.fm

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Last.fm’s custom mono spaced font by O Street

Glasgow design studio O Street has created a custom mono spaced font for Last.fm and an interactive website celebrating 100 billion online plays on the service. O Street was asked to visualise listening data and help streamline last.fm’s branding and created a design inspired by early screen fonts. “I guess the idea of the font was rooted in Last.fm being the most data focussed of all the top music streaming services,” explains O Street’s David Freer.

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A microsite celebrating 100 billion plays on the service

“We wanted to reflect this data/computational side of their service but still retain the personality and ‘sexiness’ of what they do. Mono spaced fonts, seem to harken back to the early screen fonts, like OCR-A, which we were inspired by, but we softened the curves and added a few quirks to make it relevant to a modern audience.”

To celebrate the site reaching 100 billion plays (the number of tracks listened to by users since 2003), Last.fm commissioned O Street to create a microsite visualising listener data, from the most streamed albums and artists to popular tracks and the cities that play the most rap, country and hip-hop music.

Hoefler & Co – Operator

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Operator, by Hoefler & Co

A new release from Hoefler & Co, Operator is described a “non-typewriter typewriter face.” The design aims to offer a more versatile alternative to traditional typewriter fonts, with natural instead of fixed width letters that can expand and contract while maintaining original proportions. An accompanying fixed width family, Operator Mono, features a range of weights and italics suited to programming.

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Operator, by Hoefler & Co

“People always choose typewriter faces when they want readers to look past the anonymity of writing, and focus instead on the voice behind the words. And because they strike a useful balance between earnestness and down-home charm, they’re perfect for text that risks taking itself too seriously, from corporate communications to cocktail menus…. What a designer ideally needs is a fully-fledged family of typefaces with the voice of typewriting, but none of its limitations, which is why we designed Operator,” says the foundry.

Fontsmith – FS Lucas 

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FS Lucas by Fontsmith

Last but not least is FS Lucas, a new geometric typeface from Fontsmith. It was designed by Stuart de Rozario and created in response to a growing demand among brands for ‘honest’ looking geometric fonts.

The design aims to offer a more legible alternative to perfectly circular designs – “Perfectly circular shapes don’t read well. The way around that is to slightly thicken the vertical strokes, and pull out the curves at the corners to compensate; the O and o of FS Lucas are optical illusions,” says de Rozario. Open terminals and a large X-height aim to aid legibility while giving the typeface a sense of “humanity and character.” It comes in nine weights and you can read more about the design here.

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FS Lucas by Fontsmith
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