Font Launch: Prometo and Soleto

Today Dalton Maag is adding two new font families to its library. Prometo and Soleto are available for sale from Dalton Maag’s website.  If you purchase one or both of the fonts before 9 a.m. Thursday, 27th February you can take advantage of a 50% discount on the usual price. Follow this link  http://www.daltonmaag.com/discount/SOLPROMO and when you put the fonts in your basket the discount will be applied.

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Prometo and Soleto are siblings, two approaches to an idea that grew from a single design concept. They were created to work and play together, giving designers room to explore their potential separately and in tandem. Prometo is optimised for display, and Soleto is more text friendly.

Prometo

Soleto

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The design process began in early 2012, with the first sketches for Prometo done by our Brazil office. The font is squarish and geometric in design and was originally planned to be a display typeface, most suited to wayfinding and use at large sizes. However, as the project progressed, the potential to add another dimension to the font family was realised, and it was decided to also take the design in a direction that was more appropriate for text use.

Soleto is the softer and less angular companion of Prometo. It takes much of the original structure and texture of Prometo into its makeup, but is more traditional in shape and has a refined elegance to it that works well for large areas of text. Soleto is a freshly modern font with a quietly confident character, but one which is still distinctive enough to make it stand out from the crowd.

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In contrast, Prometo has an industrial feel to its personality, as if it has been built rather than drawn. It is a font with presence and movement and is clearly out to be recognised.

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This addition to our library provides two new and contemporary styles, but with very different goals in mind. We want designers to explore the relationship between the two fonts, and put them to work wherever they need a contemporary sans serif font that is more than the sum of its parts.

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TransGourmet Focus on Foco

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Towards the end of 2013 we produced a modification of Foco for TransGourmet as well as some logo modifications. Bruno, Alex and Eleni talked to us about why TransGourmet chose Foco and the modification process.

Why did TransGourmet decide to modify Foco? What was it about the font that they liked?

Bruno: TransGourmet is Europe’s second largest Cash and Carry food service enterprise. It has a presence with large retail outlets in Switzerland, Germany, France, Poland, Romania and Russia. The outlets are customer facing and accordingly, it needs to have a friendly and approachable feel. Foco was chosen because it has the right blend of friendly and clean visual expression. The rounded treatment of some strokes break the corporate and impersonal feel that so many sans serif fonts have, yet as the design is deeply rooted in very traditional typographic principles it does not disrupt the functionality of what a typeface is supposed to do – to be read.

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The original version of Foco

The original version of Foco

Were there any particular brand values that they wanted the font to embody?

Bruno: Cash and Carry outlets by their nature provide good quality products at very affordable prices. The typeface needs to reflect that low price does not mean cheap. It does so by restraining the more playful elements such as the dis-jointed Q-tail, for example, or lowering the tip of the two diagonals in ‘M’ to sit on the baseline. Redesigning these elements to be a bit more traditional reduces the playfulness and expresses the solid quality values of the products.

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By modifying a few characters we were able to give Foco a serious twist.

By modifying a few characters we were able to give Foco a more traditional feel.

What modifications were made to Foco?

Alex & Eleni: We made some slight modifications in a few terminals so as to bring some forms closer to a classical interpretation like the bar in the “f” and “t” as well as removing some of the stencil features that one could find in the “k”. We were pleased to be asked to exchange the single storey “g” for a spectacle one, since usually this kind of request is the other way around. In a second stage we incorporated those changes in the Cyrillic meaning the modified font family would support more scripts that would be useful for the client’s business.

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Although subtle, when you combine all the changes TransGourmet has a font that is unique to them.

Were there any specific challenges for you in this project?

Alex & Eleni: For us it’s always a good challenge to review work from the past. We were able to define what needed to be modified to combine the client’s request together with our improved quality standards. We ended up with an outcome that would please both sides.

Working together with Facing from Zurich was a very good and straightforward collaboration as the scope of the project was well defined from the very beginning.

How did the font modification fit with the logo project?

Alex & Eleni:  The client asked us to use Foco for some sub-labels of the brand that would appear in different variations, side-by-side with the logotypes. Therefore, we had to be sure that all letters would be equally legible in small and big sizes without taking away from the personality of the logo. I think the font and logo work well together.

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The logos used some custom lettering which had to work with the Foco modification.

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A Font Called Grueber

Original-castle

In early 2008 I was visiting Burg Hochosterwitz, an impressive medieval castle. I noticed some interesting architectural drawings in the fourteen gates that lead up to the castle, with lettering that showed some majuscule letter-shapes that I had never seen before. The style was roughly what we would describe as a mono-linear slab-serif style. The letter W drew my attention because of it’s unusual construction. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the serifs had an unconventional trapezoid shape, which I found interesting as well.odd w

But the letters did not come from a typeface, they were hand-drawn. And the lettering on these architectural drawings was clearly not executed by a calligrapher or a person that was used to dealing with letters; the quality was not very good, the shapes changed slightly from word to word and the letters seemed to be drawn with the same tools that the person used for the drawings.

What was particularly interesting to me was that the upper-case characters that usually are constructed with diagonals such as A, V or W were constructed only with round and straight segments. I took some photos on site and I tried to do some further research on these drawings. The creator was an Austrian architect and historian called Paul Gruëber (1852-1924). In the early 1900′s, he had analysed the old castle’s gates and drawn architectural plans. Copies of these plans are displayed in the gates, and this is what I saw.

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In autumn 2008 I joined Dalton Maag as an intern and I got the chance to work on a project of my choice. I had the chance to show Bruno and Ron my sketches and ideas for the font which ended up being Grueber. I learned what font design is all about, and it was a pretty steep learning curve, as all I had as a starting point was the inspiration of a small set of uppercase letters, executed in a crude and inconsistent way.

After I had decided on how the uppercase shapes would be constructed in detail, and what the serifs would look like, I added the rest of the majuscule set. After that I came up with a matching lowercase design. These design decisions were not all made straight away, it was an evolution and involved constant refining. And after weeks and months the concept seemed to take shape.

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During this process it became clear that the unusual shapes of some of the upper case letters were perhaps a bit too extreme for usage in text, and therefore we made the decision to draw conservative shapes for these letters. This made the font a lot more usable and legible. But I didn’t want to lose the original quirky letters that inspired me and were the reason for starting the project. So the decision was made to include them as a set of alternative letters via OT feature, which seemed the perfect solution.

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For the bold weight, I wanted to go for a fairly extreme weight to create enough contrast to the already strong Regular. The extreme weight meant that some serifs had to go. It wasn’t really a problem, it actually gave the bold weight an interesting character and a very unique design.

Weights

The Dalton Maag Team decided that they liked the typeface enough to include it in the library, but by then my internship was over, so I finished the work from home. Shortly after this, I was offered a position at Dalton Maag — so although the font has never been a best-seller, for me it paid off, and it means a lot to me personally.

Lukas Paltram
Creative Director

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Dalton Maag’s 2013

2013 has been a memorable year for Dalton Maag, and for me personally. In July I took on the role of Managing Director, which has already presented me with new challenges and I’m sure will continue to do so in the year ahead. Bruno, in his new role as Chairman, has now taken a step back from the day-to-day running of the business so that he can focus more on our overall strategy and what our clients and customers need.

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David, our new MD, chats to Richard, our Operations Director

Dalton Maag has had a great year in font design, and we finish 2013 having created more typefaces for more clients than ever before. As I look at our list of current projects, there’s many that you probably already know about – our work for Nokia, HP, and others – but there are also many which we’re not yet ready to make public. Each one of these projects represents a close collaboration on a very human level between our font developers and the creative teams behind some of the world’s biggest brands.

I believe that typeface development is the most artistic science and the most scientific art there is. There is no other field in which aesthetics, psychology, and technology meet in such a subtle and creative way. Our font developers get to the heart of every brand, and I don’t think there’s another creative collaboration which is as close as the one we have with our clients.

I think that the most impressive part of our work is the alchemy which our font developers use to deliver culturally-sensitive, multi-script typefaces where script systems of disparate history come together. Creating fonts with the same appearance and tone, which look as if they came from the same hand, were created with the same tool, and are of the same intent, is a challenge that they take on with enthusiasm and never fail to deliver. In non-technical terms, you just can’t see the join.

We can’t wait to show you what we’re up to in 2014.

David Marshall
Managing Director

 A look back at the last 12 months in pictures:

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Horizontal and Vertical Setting

In my previous blog post we talked about that mysterious box, which basically controls the fundamental setting of each Chinese character, and the whole font. However, what was the reasoning that drove the CJK (Chinese Japanese Korean) world to think of using a box for bounding purposes? Horizontal and Vertical setting are definitely the crucial factor behind it.

Some History

CJK text was originally set in the vertical direction.

The first ever existing Hanzi was pictographic. From the beginning there was a tendency for the characters to be drawn from top to bottom on oracle bones (which I’ve described in a previous blog post). Hanzi already had a rich humanistic, pictorial nature, and this created a rectangular shape that naturally prompted vertical setting. The medium onto which Hanzi was written also influenced its setting. Before paper was invented during the Han Dynasty period by Cai Lun, Hanzi was inscribed on long and narrow bamboo slips, and this created the primary reason for vertical setting, as there was now an expectation that the script would be read vertically.

In the many years following the Han Dynasty period, Kaishu (the modern script) evolved from the early clerical script and has been the most prominent writing style since then. Its aesthetic, which has lasted over 1,000 years, always suggests a rather narrow letterform which has resulted in an elegant, yet humble visual letter structure.

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A re-creation of bamboo slips writing from the Han Dynasty period

Influence from the West

The horizontal setting of Chinese didn’t exist until missionaries started coming from the West  during the Ming Dynasty (15-18th century) and Qing Dynasty (17th-20th century) periods. At that time, the knowledge exchanges between East and West were substantial, but it seemed that neither way of text setting could fit with the other. There were attempts to get either Latin to fit into a vertical setting, or Chinese to fit into a horizontal setting, but it was not until the late Qing Dynasty, that huge amounts of scientific knowledge and the results of the industrial revolution flooded into China and Asia. Chinese metal type was successfully produced in the late 19th century, and it was then that Chinese in a horizontal setting was first created.

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The world changed after missionaries came from the West. Picture showing Matteo Ricci with Xu Guangqi, an important official of the Ming Dynasty period.

Vertical/Horizontal usage nowadays

How does the CJK world decide when to use a horizontal or vertical setting for text? In fact, there are no absolute rules at all. However, books or magazines decide the text direction based mainly on the contents: for texts that have a heavy use of Western content within them or are translated from foreign languages, horizontal setting is preferred. For texts that have more of a cultural significance, and content that is completely homegrown, like novels, vertical setting is always the best choice. It creates a calm, culturally rich reading environment for readers that the modern and slick horizontal setting couldn’t match.

Vertical setting was banned in mainland China during the 1950s when they were seeking a radical cultural change. Today, the ban has still not been lifted, but there are a rising number of uses of vertical setting in books. Vertical setting is now rarely seen in South Korea, while Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong still maintain a strong tradition of books with vertical typesetting.

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The famous Japanese design magazine, Idea, provides a good example of how Asia decides on a horizontal or vertical setting. Horizontal setting is used when contents are more international; vertical setting is used when the contents is pure Japanese text.

Next post: How type designers design type for different settings.

Julius Hui

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