Infoletter September 2008

Named after a river in South London

Some years ago Bruno Maag conducted a week-long workshop on type design with a group of typographic and graphic designers. The aim of the workshop was to give an insight into professional digital font design and production, and to inspire people to look deeper into the black and white world of lines and curves, space and counter space. Jonas Schudel, then just a young-gun typographer, immersed himself to design a Grotesque style Sans Serif. Initial sketches were inspired by a 1816 Sans Serif design from the Caslon font foundry.

Of course a week is only enough time to establish the basics of a font, particularly for a novice, but a year later a more mature Jonas contacted us to spend three months in our studio to revive the design he started and to complete the character set. During this time, the design underwent a number of transformations to become what is now the Effra font family. It took another sabbatical, spent in summer 2007 for Jonas to finish the design. This dedication did not go unnoticed and it was decided to add Effra to our exclusive font library. During the last twelve months our designers expanded the family and ensured it meets the same standards as the rest of our font library.

Effra, with its balanced weights works superbly in body copy and titling applications. It is perfect to replace the usual suspects that complements a variety of designs. Incidentally, King's Caslon is an ideal companion for Effra.

East meets West

We are very used to designing Latin, Greek and Cyrillic fonts; all of these script systems are closely related. They are enjoyable to design and the dedicated font designer never tires of creating beautiful shapes that are in harmony with one another, and through different languages. So, when we were approached by Transport Design Consultancy to create an Arabic typeface, with an accompanying Latin for signage purposes, we were ecstatic. It is hugely exciting to design fonts for complex script systems as it poses challanges not only in regards to design but also in technical development.

Being used to Latin design we started with a few Latin characters to establish a basic look and feel. Swiftly, we moved over to Arabic to establish whether the design ideas were applicable. These initial designs were submitted to our advisor Prof Rayan Abdullah who soundly rejected everything Arabic we did. With some advice on Arabic basics we scrapped all the work we'd done and went back to the drawing board, working on the Arabic in particular. This meant we had to familiarize ourselves with its calligraphic culture, exploring how characters are constructed and how stroke modulations are created. Our next submission to Rayan was far more successful.

Having established all the basic design concept parameters we developed the Latin and Arabic in parallel, each script system feeding creative ideas to the other. The result is a harmonious design that is respectful of both script cultures, is unique, and is perfect for signage. The font will be used in Dubai's modern metro system and was commissioned by Dubai Roads & Transport Authority, helping to enhance the contemporary experience, and providing unique legibility and coherent design.

Our designers have developed a passion and skill for more exotic script systems and would relish the opportunity to explore this further.

Font property

Knight Frank are global property professionals, with over a century of experience in the property market. A recent update of its visual identity also addressed the usage of fonts. Dalton Maag was approached by London design agency Hat-trick to design a font for display, to support the other design elements of this identity, not least the secondary font family, FF Meta.

Much of the current visual identity is very contemporary. Photography is bright and clear, colours are vibrant, and the typographic layout is clean. The new font design needed to incorporate these elements and at the same time take charge with sophistication. When starting to design the font, we were inspried by the work of Frederic Goudy, but even more so by the beautiful character shapes of the Trajan column. Overall the design of the Knight Frank Display font is slightly condensed, the serifs are a mere flare and some characters have open counters. These elements provide distinction without compromising the traditional values of good font design.

This font is capitals only, and contrary to normal typographic rules it is spaced very tightly. The tight spacing supports the tight leading giving all headlines a compact look and feel. As it is inspired by classic proportions, round characters have generious counter spaces that ensure the tight setting of the font does not become claustrophobic but retains an open and friendly feel.

As is normal with all fonts Dalton Maag designs, the fonts supports over fifty languages which use the Latin alphabet, helping Knight Frank reach many markets.

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