Dalton Maag visits the Type Archive

It felt like a highly anticipated movie finally coming out, after a long period of teasers and trailers released to get its geeky fandom excited. As many people who live in London and work with typography, I had been waiting for years to visit the type archive. It was a daily tease, too, as as every morning on my way the Dalton Maag office in Brixton, the bus drives past a white sign, typeset in Albertus, with the words “The Type Archive”.

I almost managed to visit it once, while studying type design in Reading, but we couldn’t get the permission. Later, at Dalton Maag, we also tried and failed to arrange a visit. Needless to say, as soon as word got out that there would be an open night there, within minutes most of the designers in the London office had already bought tickets.

The event was to celebrate the 500-year anniversary of Aldus Manutius’ death this February, and a book launch about the history of Monotype. When the night finally arrived, 18 of us left the office at 6 and walked down the road together. The Archive is in a cobblestoned yard, with a cluster of very charming old industrial buildings. It is quite spacious, and although it was full of people, we were all left to walk around and explore. It was not a guided tour, but a chance to wander around open doors, while volunteers showed us the way, and in some occasions there were practical demonstrations of the machinery, or typecasting, and so on.

We started to explore freely, as the space was really big, with lots of rooms and different nooks and crannies filled with hidden gems. It was really a fantastic place, quite different from a museum: there was much more practical machinery than I had ever seen before, specifically designed to solve printing problems that had never occurred to me as having existed. While my working day is spent adjusting bezier curves on a computer screen, the Type Archive shows equipment from a time when type was a physical thing, and needed to be drawn and manufactured, enlarged and reduced, modified and reproduced, measured and transported, stored and catalogued, and so on, as a collection of solid objects. While I may have read about and studied the general process of designing or typesetting metal type, the variety of machines on display at the Archive prove that there were many more practical challenges (and sophisticated solutions) than what we usually study, especially after the industrial revolution.

It soon became evident that it was impossible to see everything in one night, so my approach was to relax and just wander around to whatever caught my attention, and exchange experiences whenever I ran into one of my friends along the way: “Do you know what this thing does?”; “Did you see the models for cutting Sinhala wood type with the pantograph?”; “Did you see the architectural drawings of buildings that look like letters?”; “Did you see that ligature?”

When we later gathered in a hall with food and drinks to wait for a short talk about Aldus Manutius, the atmosphere of curiosity and excitement was palpable. Nicolas Barker gave a great talk about Manutius and his contribution to typography and book design (that would be a subject for another post!), and Sue Shaw talked about the Type Archive and the history of the building. The cherry on the cake was learning the fact that that very building has once provided accommodation to circus animals, including two baby elephants and a baby zebra! Just when I thought this place couldn’t get any cooler…

This visit was definitely worth the wait. The problem is, one evening is not enough. I do hope they manage to do more of these events in the future.

Luisa Baeta


So how does an international collaboration between a London and a Korean type foundry work?



Daum Kakao is one of the largest Internet companies in South Korea and its multi-platform texting app, KakaoTalk, is available in over 230 countries and used by 100 million customers in 15 languages.

Daum Kakao was working on their new corporate identity and they approached one of South Korea’s most established type foundries, Sandoll Communication (산돌커뮤니케이션), based in Seoul, to design a new Latin and Korean typeface. The brief was for a sans serif design for both UI and branding purposes. With a big launch date approaching at the end of 2014 there was no time to lose.

And so the project unfolded.

  1. Sandoll brought in Dalton Maag to design a concept for the basic Latin characters.
  2. Sandoll then took the design concept and, with Design Consultancy from Dalton Maag, developed the full Latin font themselves.
  3. Sandoll then extended the Latin design into Hangul.

We wanted to design something for Daum Kakao that delivered equally on functionality and personality. The concept Daum Kakao eventually settled on was a simple and warm typeface given strong character by the oblique angle in its diamond ‘dot’ over the letter ‘i’. Strong because it works in small sizes on screen. Strong because it’s adaptable for the Korean design. Strong because it differs from other fonts available for the mobile market.

Dalton Maag often works with consultants when working on non-Latin scripts. But being consultants for the Latin script, working with a team of Korean designers developing the full font, was a unique case. But from the time we passed the font files over to Sandoll, communications flowed very smoothly.

With deadlines very tight there wasn’t time for miscommunication. The 9-hour time difference allowed us to arrange our  meetings with Sandoll at 9am UK time, when it was 6pm in Korea. Usually, it would be a conference call in English between Sandoll’s Korean team and Dalton Maag’s international team. Often there were no native English speakers involved!

“When I observe the great work Sandoll has done with the fonts and the great way Daum Kakao is using them, I find it fascinating how design (more than English) is our common language. A great understanding of design is how I would describe this collaboration. Daum Kakao’s mission is to ‘Connect Everything’. I really like how it applied to this project. Sandoll is now designing the Hangul and we just can’t wait to see it!”

Naima Ben Ayed, Dalton Maag Font Developer and Project Lead for the design and consultancy.


V&A Friday Late Font

On Friday 28th November Dalton Maag took up residence at the V&A museum’s ‘Friday Late – What the Font’ event, a curated evening of workshops, talks, installations, performances and music. We ran a workshop that provided people with a chance to get their hands dirty, play with colour and form and contribute to the creation of the V&A Friday Late Font.

With guidance from some of Dalton Maag’s expert font design team, members of the public constructed and designed letterforms from random objects and by printing with modular wood blocks. The resulting characters were photographed, engineered by Dalton Maag and a functional typeface was created in real time. The end result is a large collaborative font with a unique sense of character.

You can download the font from the night here: www.daltonmaag.com/static/download/Friday_Late_Font.zip

Please note this font was auto generated on the night and does not meet our usual spec.

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Chinese and Japanese scripts added to Aktiv Grotesk

Today Dalton Maag launches its first Chinese and Japanese retail fonts, created in collaboration with Arphic Technologies. Aktiv Grotesk is one of our most popular font families and, with the addition of Chinese and Japanese scripts, extending the family to include Aktiv Grotesk Chinese Simplified, Aktiv Grotesk Chinese Traditional and Aktiv Grotesk Japanese, the design has become more versatile than ever. Read more about our partnership with Arphic here. Explore and purchase Aktiv Grotesk Chinese & Japanese here.

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Dalton Maag and Arphic Technologies collaborate on Latin-Chinese-Japanese font matching

Dalton Maag, international typeface designers, and Taiwanese font foundry, Arphic Technologies, announce a new business partnership that sees the two firms collaborating to bring to market a series of matched Latin-Chinese and Latin-Japanese fonts for customers seeking professional quality typefaces for use in print, display and digital environments. The first fonts to be released from the two libraries are a match between Dalton Maag’s best selling font, Aktiv Grotesk, and Arphic’s AR UDJingXiHei Global Font.

Driving this innovation has been Dalton Maag’s desire to provide a typographic solution to Western companies who recognise the importance of creating a coherent brand language to support their communications with Chinese and Japanese customers, employees and supply chain partners as they move into Asia Pacific markets.

Traditionally the only option open to an organization requiring a Chinese or Japanese font which fits perfectly with a Latin typeface has been expensive and time consuming. A custom solution can take between one and two years to implement and involves a high level of investment. Licensing an off-the-shelf font from one of the many Chinese fonts suppliers comes at a much lower cost but introduces a real risk to the company of brand disruption as the design of the Chinese or Japanese font will often not fit the Latin typeface well, visually. What we are offering here is a high quality solution which is possible on a restricted budget.

Dalton Maag has selected the most popular Latin font from its font library for which Arphic then found a close relative in their Chinese and Japanese designs, one that was already, in its foundations, a very close match to the Latin design. The metrics of the Latin characters were then carefully modified by Dalton Maag to match those of the Chinese characters. Arphic then undertook some minor detailing to introduce subtle changes into the Chinese typeface design to ensure a visual expression coherent with that of the Latin.

“AR JingXiHei is simple, sleek and and consistent and I felt that its look and feel captured the clarity and simplicity of Aktiv Grotesk and presented us with a perfect candidate for creating a natural extension to our best selling font”. Bruno Maag, Chairman, Dalton Maag.

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Aktiv Hei Hans, Aktiv Hei Hant and Aktiv Gothic fonts are being offered under Dalton Maag’s simple licensing model already recognised by corporate clients in the UK, Europe and the USA for being competitively priced and for allowing very flexible usage in regards to installation within the enterprise, installation with distribution to third party suppliers and app usage.

This initial release of Aktiv Hei and Aktiv Gothic offers Chinese Simplified (Hans) and Chinese Traditional (Hant) and Japanese language support. The font packages each come in four weights: Light, Regular, Bold and Medium and each weight also includes the corresponding Aktiv Grotesk font.

As a font which already supports Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic and Hebrew, this combination with Arphic’s Hei and Gothic typefaces means that Aktiv Grotesk is well on the way to becoming a truly global font. There are plans to expand the weight coverage and further expand language support by introducing a matched Korean font.