Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Celebration of Type in Brazil

Between March 19th to 25th, Brazilian typophiles were lucky to experience the biggest type event in all Brazilian history. TPC10 was a celebration of the 10 years of Tipocracia – an educational project, headed by Henrique Nardi, that travels throughout Brazil promoting the typographic culture with lectures and workshops.


The audience was practically breathing type with a total of 19 guests, coming from Argentina to The Hague, in a series of talks, panels and workshops. My colleague, Fernando, and I were invited to talk about the new corporate typeface we designed for Petrobras, the largest company in Brazil. It was a real pleasure to shed light on such an important project, and take the audience through its development step by step, which answered a very complex briefing.

Pages from Petrobras_TPC10_Release

Over the nights, there were Type&Beer sessions, encouraged by Tony De Marco and myself. These were to alleviate the information overload of the day and test the guests’ calligraphic abilities after several beers and cachaça bottles.

I began my interest in type almost at the same time that the Tipocracia project came to life, and I can guarantee that the hard work that Henrique Nardi has put into this has had a tremendous impact on forming the typographic culture we have here today. More than an event for the community, TPC10 was a real celebration of Tipocracia’s proposition: happy anniversary!

Fabio Haag

Finding the Way with Aktiv Grotesk

We recently came across an interesting use of our Aktiv Grotesk typeface at Massey University in New Zealand on their new College of Creative Arts, Wellington Campus building – Te Ara Hihiko. Nick Kapica of SV Associates was responsible for designing the building’s wayshowing using Aktiv Grotesk. He was kind enough to give us some more information about the building itself and how the font is used within it.

(images courtesy of Nick Kapica)

“The wayshowing for Te Ara Hihiko, the new creative arts building at Massey University, relies on the placement of typography within the built environment to not only communicate the required building information but also in doing so engage the viewer in visually understanding the space.

“The building has been designed by Athfield Architects and is centrally situated within the Wellington campus of Massey University. Built into a rapidly sloping section of land, entry points are possible on three different levels. Throughout the campus the University has used letters to denote building levels and these levels remain consistent throughout the entire campus… Many visitors to the campus are initially confused by the unusual lettering system, so in Te Ara Hihiko a feature has been made out of the five letters, A, B, C, D and E thus introducing new visitors to this concept quickly as they enter the building. Although the building has a name (Te Ara Hihiko) it is officially Block 12, all other building on the campus are denoted with a block number. Large typography, 12,  on the exterior façade introduces the typographic language that continues within the building.

“New Zealand has two official languages, te reo Maori and English, and this has been acknowledged in the completely bilingual, non hierarchical wayshowing. The only capital letters used are those denoting the five levels, all other typography is lowercase.

“All typography has been set in Aktiv Grotesk. The large characters; A, B, C, D, E and 12, are set in bold and  have 1800 mm cap height, all other typography is in regular. Directional information has a cap height of 30 mm, location and door names has a cap height of 60 mm and door numbers a cap height of 20 mm. The building name breaks out of this system and has been applied to the façade on both sides of the building at the entrance on level B and C in sizes most appropriate for the location.

“This system aims to educate and inform the visitor about the physical nature of the building rather than simply guide them from signpost to signpost.”

From Egypt to Dulwich

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Since December, I have been walking around London every Saturday, looking for bookshops and interesting type-related matters around the city. Back in 2008, I found a post on where James Mosley talked about William Caslon IV’s famous 2-Lines English Egyptian, that Justin Howes revived. Perhaps it’s more correct to say he made his own interpretation of the English Egyptian, for Dulwich Picture Gallery. Howes was the founder of the H. W. Caslon Type Foundry and he passed away in 2005. The post has been bookmarked on my computer ever since then.


Five years later, I’m lucky enough to be here in London, and what’s even more lucky is that Dulwich is a place that I pass through every day to get to Dalton Maag’s studio. So a few weeks ago I got off the train at West Dulwich station, walked along the Gallery Road for 15 minutes and reached the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

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Mosley, and most type historians, believed the Egyptian type style has its deep roots within architecture – as seen in his book ‘The Nymph and The Grot’ and Alan Bartram’s ‘Type Form’. The Dulwich Picture Gallery building was designed by Sir John Soane, a  renowned British architect prevailing from the late 18th to early 19th century, who was well known for often using sans serifs for his projects. The gallery opened in 1817, which is the period around about when William Caslon IV published his 2-Lines English Egyptian. With these strong reasons, it’s not surprising that, as a Caslon geek, Howes decided to draw this particular English Egyptian for the gallery.

We don’t know why the Picture Gallery only commissioned Howes for the west Entrance/side entrance sign’s lettering. To me the side entrance sign works really well within the whole context. The original English Egyptian was of experimental purpose, one could imagine the type wouldn’t go well with each other. Howes made some slight improvements regarding the letterforms and counter-space, while still maintaining the interesting awkwardnesses, like the capital G. Punctuations and figures were also designed by Howes, so that all the awkwardnesses came together (strange A and comma, an awkward figure) to create an interesting sign for the gallery.

The look and feel inevitably looks like Gill Sans. While people have said that the Caslon-style inspired Johnston Sans, and Johnston Sans inspired Gill Sans, could there be some relations in-between? That would be an interesting story to dig deeper into. Our own Effra was inspired by the same 2-Lines English Egyptian source, although took a somewhat different approach to it.

Julius Hui

Pure Klingon

Lumia920_klingon_900small01Nokia announced today that it has released another script, adding to the growing list of languages that we have designed for Nokia Pure. This language is a little bit more obscure than some of the others and you’ll have to travel a long way to find a native speaker. We’re very pleased to unveil Nokia Pure Klingon.

You can read more about this new addition to the Nokia Pure family, designed by Dalton Maag, at the Nokia branding blog: