Monthly Archives: January 2014

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.

A Font Called Grueber


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.

plans-(3) plans-(1) plans-(2)

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.


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.


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