Non-Latin faces

Our first Type Annual showcases excellence in international typeface design over the past year. Those entries in our Non-Latin section features fonts created for type characters outside of the Latin alphabet.

Typeface: Vem & Ernestine
Design: Hrant Papazian and Nina Stössinger, themicrofoundry.comninastoessinger.com
Distributor: FSI FontShop International, fontshop.com

Vem is the Armenian component of Ernestine, a Latin text face. According to its designers, it aims to be “warm yet serious, feminine yet rigid” and was born “from the need for a versatile multi-script family that respects and cherishes cultural differences instead of blindly imposing features across scripts”. Vem is a counterpart to the Latin, matching its colour, apparent size and particular mood but “defining its own structural standards via its slant, reduced serifs and narrower shapes, which optimise it for Armenian”.

Typeface: Rutz
Design/Distributor: Oded Ezer, ezerfamily.com

Rutz was created by Oded Ezer, one of the most prominent Israeli designers working today. He had been looking for a way to design a contemporary Hebrew typeface that could carry on a tradition of Hebrew serif text faces begun by Frank-Rühl around 1908 and carried through by Francheska Baruch’s Shoken from the mid-40s and Koren, Hadassah and David in the 50s but which had appeared to die out with the launch of the Narkiss Linotype family in 1968. There had, Ezer says, been no significant Hebrew serif text faces since. “One day I stumbled upon Rob Keller’s The Making of Vesper article on [blog] I Love Typography. I found this font beautiful but, more importantly, readable and with strong character. I felt that this guy’s typeface, designed as his MA graduation project at Reading University, might have some clues for my own search for the perfect Hebrew serif text typeface. So I wrote to him asking if he would be interested in a Hebrew version and he happily said yes. What excited me most about it was the typical ‘Hebrew’ cutting of this font, whose style reminded me very much of the style of the classic Hadassah typeface, but in a softer and more delicate way. I immediately had the idea to use its serif as a starting point for the Hebrew version and, from there, my task became clear to me: to design a flowing, easy to read Hebrew typeface.” Rutz, which means ‘running’, features five different weights – the first Hebrew serif text font family to do so, Ezer claims.

Typeface: 500BC Bold
Design: Abdo Saleh
Design assistant: Jimmy Ghazal
Technical assistant: Jallal Abdallah
Design company/ Distributor: BrandCentral, brandcentral.me

According to Beirut-based design company BrandCentral, who created this typeface, Arabic suffers from a lack of font choices leading to many design studios creating their own. 500BC Bold, they say, was developed in an attempt to create an Arabic equivalent to Helvetica Bold in terms of legibility, if not in terms of style. Its name is a reference to the Phoenicians who lived where modern Lebanon is today and who were among the first civilizations to use the alphabet widely (and the BC also stands for Brand Central, of course). The typeface has been used mainly for the regional Arabic TV channel Alhurra, on titling and editorial headlines.

Typeface: Aisha
Design: Titus Nemeth, tntypography.com
Distributor: Rosetta, rosettatype.com

Aisha originates from a research project about Maghribi calligraphy at the ESAD in Amiens, France. Its regular Arabic weight derives from Arabic foundry type which its designer, Titus Nemeth, discovered in a 19th century language text book. It also has a Latin face to accompany the Arabic. Nemeth says they are “independently usable, yet related designs. In order to expand its versatility and usability, I conceived a range of weights covering both scripts, the Arabic drawing inspiration from Moroccan calligraphy.”

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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