typefaceOxtail by Stefan Hattenbach | Psy/Ops Award season continues on Unzipped – albeit somewhat delayed. February traditionally is Oscars month, and in the type world it is the time of year the TDC2 winners are announced. TDC2 is the annual type design contest organized by the Type Directors Club. I was hoping to receive some images of the judges at work but unfortunately that never materialized, and I’m still missing descriptions of some typefaces.
Just like the Oscars release their list of nominees, TDC published the Preliminary Results a couple of weeks before the actual announcement of the winners (the final results are only made available after the winners have been notified by physical mail). This list taught us that of the 166 typefaces entered from 28 countries, 21 were selected. The winning typefaces came from 13 countries; 76% was outside the U.S. Top country after the U.S. (56 entries, five winners) this year was Germany with 27 entries, of which two won, and The Netherlands with 11 entries and again two winners.
Unlike some other (type) design competitions, no rankings are assigned other than Judges’ Choices. The winning entries are listed in four categories: Text/Type Family (seven families), Display (nine typefaces), Type System (four type systems) and Pi and Ornament (one font). Within those categories the winners are in alphabetical order.
Text / Type Family
Al Rajhi(Habib Khoury, London, England) is an exclusive corporate typeface for the Al Rajhi Group in Saudi Arabia. It was designed as an integral part of the total branding project executed by Brand Instinct, which approached the AvanType foundry to collaborate in this project.
Fondo (Cristóbal Henestrosa, Mexico City, Mexico) originated as a custom text face for the exclusive use of Fondo de Cultura Económica, the most important publishing house in Mexico. Conceptually, the intention was to reconcile European Renaissance typography and American type design from the XVIth century with contemporary elements. It has already been used in two publications: FCE’s Agenda 2008 (a diary appointment book) and the 50th anniversary commemorative edition of Piedra de Sol, a poem by Nobel prize winner Octavio Paz. It is intended to be used for the FCE’s 75th anniversary collection (2009).
Marat (Ludwig Übele, The Haag, The Netherlands) was started during Ludwig Übele’s Type and Media postgraduate course at KABK Den Haag. Although originally conceived as a magazine face – with strong serifs and open character shapes for good legibility in small sizes, and compact letter forms optimized for narrow columns and tight headlines – Marat evolved into a comprehensive family for general use. With their vertical stress and round forms the letters lend a soft and friendly appearance to the text.
OTS Ethiopic (Jelle Bosma, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands; George Ryan, Woburn, Massachusetts; and Jim Wasco, Redwood City, California) is an original design for low resolution electronic displays.
Palatino Arabic (Nadine Chadine and Hermann Zapf, Bad Homburg, Germany) is a collaboration between Lebanese designer Nadine Chahine and Prof. Hermann Zapf. The face is a reworking of the Al-Ahram typeface designed by Zapf in 1956, modified to fit the Palatino Nova family. The design is Naskh in style but with a strong influence of the Thuluth style as well, which is evident in the swash-like finials and the wide proportions of the letterforms. It is designed for use in print in both large and small sizes. Open counters allow for better readability in small sizes and give the face an open and friendly appearance.
Tiina (Valentin Brustaux, Geneva, Switzerland) was designed by Valentin Brustaux for his Master of Arts in Typeface Design at Reading. It is a contemporary serif typeface strongly inspired by oldstyle faces and based on the movement of the broad-nibbed pen. Even though it plays with established typographic principles, Tiina remains a rigorous typeface perfectly suited for high resolution printing, performing extremely well at small sizes and revealing refined features at display size.
Vodafone Hindi (Tim Holloway, London, England; John Hudson, Gabriola, Canada; and Fiona Ross, Swells Hill, England) is a Devanagari face matching the initial Vodafone InterFace font family which covered the Latin, Greek and Cyrillic scripts. Whereas those three alphabets are closely related, Devanagari, on the other hand, has very little in common with any of these scripts. Accordingly, the challenge to make this script look and feel part of the Vodafone family was considerable. Although the character set consists of a limited number of consonant and vowel symbols, a font can still easily reach over 600 glyphs. The complexity of the system lies in the use of contextual conjunct forms, or ligatures, which all have to be drawn separately. The font then has to be programmed with OpenType tables that are accessed by the operating system and applications to ensure the correct conjunct form is used in each context.
Anselm (Frantisek Storm, Prague, The Czech Republic) has roots that go back to Jannon, a slightly modified oldstyle roman. It is a sober, reliable workhorse face, devoid of any eccentricies, whose large x-height makes it ideal for setting extensive text. It is meant to be an all-round type family, equally suited for poetry, magazines, books, posters, and information systems. The type system consists of a serif, its sans serif counterpart, and a specific serif cut for small sizes. The character set includes Cyrillic and Greek.
Gloriola Standard and Display (Tomas Brousil, Prague, The Czech Republic) is a monolinear sans serif in nine weights ranging from Hair to Fat. Its open character shapes, ample x-height and clear forms, combined with the full possibilities of OpenType, make it a type system perfectly suited for general use. The family has four extreme Display cuts – Hair and Thin at one end of the spectrum and Black and Fat at the other – featuring reduced ascenders and descenders and strong letterforms. National (Kris Sowersby, Wellington, New Zealand) formally doesn’t reference any particular sans or grotesque. It is a deceptively simple sans serif with subtle quirks in the details that give it a distinctive – but not distracting – personality. While National travels through, and touches on, a lot of historical material, it is designed to thrive in our modern typographic climate. The typeface is slightly narrower than normal and has a certain amount of warmth. The italics are testament to this, being more ‘italic’ than oblique. National’s details are drawn from the best pre-Akzidenz grotesques, giving it a humble, workmanlike character with an agreeable tone of voice.
Presidencia (Gabriel Martinez Meave, Mexico City, Mexico) is the new institutional typeface for the Presidency of Mexico.
Blaktur (Ken Barber, Yorlyn, Delaware) is a fat broken-letter, loosely modelled after some wood-block lettering by Rudolf Koch. With some help from Tal Leming, a feature called the Udo Dirkschneider Umlaut Randomizer was developed for Blaktur. As a tribute to overly zealous heavy metal band logos, diereses are liberally sprinkled above consonants when the Titling Alternates feature is selected in the OpenType menu. And, in the event that any doctoral candidates in illuminated medieval German Papal manuscript handwriting were looking for the perfect typeface for their dissertation, Ken included a host of archaic letter forms that would confound even the most astute paleography buff.
Burgues Script (Alejandro Paul, Buenos Aires, Argentina) is an ode to the late 19th century American calligrapher Louis Madarasz, whose legendary pen has inspired schools of penmanship for over 100 years. His talent has caused some people to call him ‘the most skilful penman the world has ever known’. The two main sources for Burgues were the calligraphy examples shown in Zaner Bloser’s The Secret of the Skill of Madarasz: His Philosophy and Penmanship Masterpieces, and C. W. Jones’s Lessons in Advanced Engraver’s Script Penmanship by L. Madarasz.
Fresco Arabic (Fred Smeijers, Antwerp/Leipzig; and Lara Assouad, Dubai)
Logo Jr Black (Shigeru Katsumoto and Kyoko Katsumoto, Osaka, Japan)
Mommie (Hubert Jochan, Memmingen, Germany) stems from Hubert Jocham’s fascination with American penmanship tradition. In the early 1980s, at the start of his career, he worked in a print shop with classic lead setting. While studying issues of U&lc magazine, his attention was caught by lettering in the Spencerian style. A few years ago he developed a font, which Boris Bencic used for his redesign of L’Officiel magazine in Paris. Taking these initial forms Hubert developed them into the script Mommie when he started his own foundry. Although he usually designs text faces, work on Mommie taught him how complex the creation of a script headline font can be, as characters need to overlap seamlessly. Yet the biggest challenge has been to keep the design alive and fresh.
Ventura (Dino dos Santos, Matosinhos, Portugal) is based on the work of Joaquim José Ventura da Silva. He was a Portuguese calligrapher and teacher from the nineteenth century who published the calligraphy tome ‘Regras methodicas para se aprender a escrever os caracteres das letras Ingleza, Portugueza, Aldina, Romana, Gotica-Italica e Gotica-Germanica’ in 1820. Ventura’s work was influenced by English calligraphers like Charles Snell and George Shelley The first sketches for the script having been presented at ATypI Lisbon in 2006, the typeface was completed in 2007. It includes a large amount of ligatures and other OpenType features that provide access in one single typeface to all the different variations in character shapes that Ventura originally designed.
Pi and Ornament
Restraint (Marian Bantjes and Ross Mills, Bowen Island, Canada) is a mind-blowing ornament font which just happens to contain letterforms defined by the negative shape of the ornaments.
What struck me this year was the stellar quality of the jury, which included the recipient of the Prix Charles Peignot 2007 Christian Schwartz and two living legends: the Dean of Dutch digital type design Gerard Unger, and Matthew Carter who chaired TDC2 2008. The jury was rounded out by Larry Oppenberg, President of Galápagos Design Group, and Sara Soskolne of Hoefler & Frere-Jones whom I had the pleasure of meeting at TypeCon2005 in NYC. Where necessary, the jury was advised about non-Latin script entries by the TDC Non-Latin Advisory Board.
All judges picked their personal favourite – the Judges Choices – amongst the winning entries.
Larry Oppenberg | Logo Black Jr. (Shigeru Katsumoto & Kyoko Katsumoto, Osaka, Japan)
Christian Schwartz | Mommie (Hubert Jochan, Memmingen, Germany)
Sara Soskolne | National (Kris Sowersby, Wellington, New Zealand)
Gerard Unger | Al Rajhi(Habib Khoury, London, England)
Matthew Carter, chair of TDC2 2008, commented: ‘The TDC Type Design Competition continues to grow; there were 166 entries this time compared to 141 in 2007. This was the first year that submissions were accepted as PDF uploads to encourage a greater number and diversity of entries from around the world.’
‘The four judges were thorough and tough, as a competition of this quality and reputation deserves. I noticed special attention being given to spacing in text settings, to the relationship between roman and italic and between different weights, criteria that mark the best of type designs. The judges were also independently minded; the fact that they so often reached the same conclusion gave me special confidence in their collective wisdom. The Chair has no vote in this competition, except as a tie-breaker. In the process of arriving at 21 winners my opinion was only asked once.’
‘The effects of the OpenType format continue to be felt. Several type designs in the display category reveled in more characters than the standard set requires, and there were some “superfamilies” that combined different scripts, most commonly Latin, Greek and Cyrillic. One must admire such enterprise and encourage it, but it has to be said that designing two or more scripts to a uniformly high standard is extremely difficult. Only one multilingual entry made the final cut. On the other hand, several stand-alone non-Latin designs were both exciting and well executed. One third of the winners were, or included, non-Latin types.’
‘It is the competitors who have driven this competition from strength to strength over its eleven years. They do all the hard work. I am grateful to the designers who accepted the TDC’s invitation to compete, to the four colleagues who accepted my invitation to judge, and to the panel of non-Latin experts whose advice is crucial to what is now a truly international competition.’
With all due respect, a correction to the Display category:
Fresco Arabic has been designed by Fred Smeijers (Antwerp/Leipzig) and Lara Assouad (Dubai) for the Typographic Matchmaking Project of Khatt Foundation, Amsterdam. The retail version of Fresco Arabic in 6 weights will be released by OurType (www.ourtype.com) later this year. More on this project at www.khatt.net
25.03.2008 - 05.28.45
Posted by Co
Thanks for pointing that out, Corina, I corrected the entry. One thing I don't quite understand is why Fresco Arabic was categorized as a display face.
25.03.2008 - 09.35.42
Posted by Yves Peters a.k.a. Unzipper
House worked it out this year!
26.03.2008 - 00.02.42
Posted by Miss Tiffany
I've received some additional background information on a number of typefaces which I will add shortly.
26.03.2008 - 00.57.01
Posted by Yves Peters a.k.a. Unzipper
I presume it's by mistake. Fresco Arabic was submitted by Huda directly [Khatt Foundation], we learned about it only when the results have been made public.
Fresco Arabic isn't Display per se, but I guess the 2 weights weren't enough to fit it into the Type family, but that's just a guess...
26.03.2008 - 01.02.14
Posted by Co
This website uses comment moderation to help combat spam.
Possibly your comment won't appear on the entry until it is reviewed.
Thanks for your understanding.