The Top Ten Fonts: ‘The Gulliver? You do not end up on the dance floor, but you have a nice evening ‘

As students, they became close friends and spent a lot of time together. But would a joint office also work well? Graphic designers Loes van Esch (38) and Simone Trum (36) would carefully examine this after graduating from the Art-EZ University of Applied Sciences in Arnhem. They did this one day a week, always on Thursdays. After more than a year, they probably knew and joined the Chamber of Commerce as a Team on Thursday. Twelve years later, Van Esch and Trum have a wealth of clients in the cultural sector. From their office in Rotterdam, they design artist publications and deliver the graphic identity to all kinds of institutions, such as the recent fashion biennial in Arnhem.

Their characters are complementary. Van Esch: “Simone can start a project. It often starts with her. ” Drum: “Loes is the consistently glowing coal, and I’m more of a flame. Loes has more stamina and a more precise eye. She often completes projects. ”

They are not of the modernist school, they say. Only preoccupied with functionality would feel like a straitjacket. Hold Thursday like to make decorations of letters. And if possible, they, as typographers, push the boundaries of readability. Their dream: more often to break free from the two-dimensionality and volatility of printed matter. Like last year, when they turned a graphic design into a large curtain in the weaving mill at the Textile Museum in Tiburg. That trip makes you want more. Based on style, they could also design upholstery fabrics, rugs and other interior products. “Turn 2D into 3D,” Trum says.

They can consider for a long time about letter choices for their designs. They often try different letters to see which one fits best. Perfection is not the decisive criterion, they say. “Our preference is almost always for a letter that has some wood, a little twists. It gives more individuality and ensures that a design does not become too smooth.”

Hold Thursday’s election is illustrated with a phrase that contains all the letters of the alphabet.


Geoffrey Lee, Stephenson Blake Foundry, 1965

Loes van Esch and Simone Trum: “An old favorite. This was a loud message letter, a headline for many American newspapers. As the name suggests, this letter was primarily intended to impress. Impact is a very direct letter. Quality is not the first association, it rather exudes a certain cheapness. Gossip magazines also like to use her, as does the low-budget supermarket chain Dirk van den Broek. It is a letter without an extra layer, like: I convey this message, and nothing else. We used Impact at the academy. But we would not do that for the time being. It is now widely used for memes, internet jokes. She has gone from a demonstration letter to an ironic one. “

9Times New Roman

Stanley Morison, Monotype, 1932

“Letters without serifs [de dunne dwarsstreepjes aan het uiteinde van de verticale en horizontale balken] usually our work fits best. When we use a serif, it’s often Times New Roman, a classic type that Stanley Morison developed for the British newspaper in the 1930s. The times† It’s a letter with a whole story and with short tail letters [letters met een onder de regel uitstekende haal, zoals de j en y], which makes it possible to print much more text on a newspaper page. The Times New Roman is a flexible letter. Variing the space or line spacing – making it very narrow or very wide – changes the overall picture. The character? This letter is a well-groomed person with shiny gray hair. Someone who behaves as you expect. “

8Serifbabe Alpha

Charlotte Rohde, Studio Charlotte Rohde, 2020

“Charlotte Rohde is one of the few female type designers. Why? Traditionally, men were given much more room to develop in the technical field. As a type designer, Rohde has a feminist slant. For her, research in letters is an instrument for dealing with femininity. Also because of the name, Serif-babe, this letter has a vampy, super-elegant look. This makes it very suitable for posters and large headlines. So expressive, so confident, especially if you only use capital letters. No matter how special it is, we have never used this letter. She has too much identity in her for us. We prefer to give character to our design. ”

7 Gulliver

Gerard Unger, Gerard Unger font shop, 1993 (deleted)

As a type designer, Gerard Unger had a very pragmatic, almost scientific approach. Readability has always been a priority for him. Gulliveren was a type of newspaper, an attempt to design the most economical font in the world. He did this by combining an extremely large x-height with short sticks and tails, which made it very economical to use and also very readable in small corpses. Among other USA today and Stuttgarter newspaper used her. What kind of person is Gulliver? One you go to the Grand Café with. You do not end up on the dance floor, but you experience a cozy evening with Gulliver, from whom you also learn something. “

6 Creepy hairy

Jung-Lee, Jung-Lee Type Foundry, 2017

“Jung-Lee is a Korean who in 2015 established a type foundry (letter publisher, red.) Setup. She also made a booklet about this letter. The cool thing about this type design, which also has something calligraphic, is that it is created out of a personal obsession. Read the booklet Jung-Lee remade about his design. In it, she explains that these letters are based on the shapes of wet Asian hair on the floor of a shower stall. We teach typography at academies. We always remind students that everything, any everyday thing, can be the starting point for a new letter. It just depends on how you do it. ”

5 OS Wald

Wooseok Jang, Orange Slice Type, 2018

“A calm, easy-to-read letter without serifs, which has something sympathetic thanks to its round shapes. What makes this letter so interesting are the strange details. The capital letters B, G and R have an extra deep armpit, it looks like an ink shaft. Flags and tails of f, j and q are remarkably straight. K’s has a stomach. When we purchased this letter from Wooseok Jang, he added a note. His letter, OS Wald is a forest, he wrote, but we also had to look at the individual letters. The character of this letter? A young man with a knee problem. That person is doing well, but there is a rift in his or her movement. “

4 note

Google, Google Fonts, 2014

“Noto is an impossibly large project that is still under development: a font family developed on behalf of Google for more than a thousand languages ​​and 150 writing systems. The goal was to achieve visual harmony for all these languages ​​and scripts. Insanely ambitious.

“‘Noto’ is Latin for ‘I write’. But the name is also an abbreviation for ‘no tofu’. A tofu is the blank rectangle that appears on a screen when there is no font available for any text. We once designed an exhibition in South Korea. With texts in Korean and English. It was quite difficult to find matching fonts. “

3 Lars

Mads Wildgaard, Fed decisions, 2015

“When we are still outlining the phase where design still has a certain neutrality, we often use Lars. A letter that is super easy to use, suitable for all possible purposes. We also use her regularly in the final design. Then we mistreat her regularly: we stretch her a lot or at a very strange interval.

“No, Lars is not a person you go to a pub with. It’s someone on a half glass of wine and goes to bed at nine o’clock. Not one you get drunk with or end up on the dance floor with. But Lars is a fantastic colleague you can trust. ”

2 Gikit

Benoit Bodhuin, BB Bureau, 2020

“We would have loved to have designed this letter ourselves. Then we would definitely use her every now and then. We’ve never done that before because this letter is so cool a design, almost too personal for anyone else to use. Gikit is a very expressive, almost sculptural letter. It is solid, angular and based on a lattice. The icing on the cake is the only round shape. Benoit Bodhuin designed Gikit for a task that eventually fell through. The fun of doing it explodes. It also feels like a real French letter. Gikit is like a muscular figure. A person with a soft heart who pretends to be tougher than he or she is. ”

1 Why Inktrap

Johannes Breyer, Fabian Harb and Erkin Karamemet, Dinamo, 2020

“Dinamo is the design office for Johannes Breyer, Fabian Harb and Erkin Karamemet. These Swiss are the rock stars among the type foundries, the hippest graphic designers. They work with fashion brands and artists and know well how to get out there. They even have their own items, with T-shirts and keychains. Whyte Inktrap is a letter that plays a game with graphic history. In the era of lead letters, designers took into account that the ink ran a little and that lowercase letters had a ink traps, gutters that you no longer saw in print. The gutters are visible here. Whyte Inktrap can be seen as a super fashionable person with a striking bag or strange shoes. ”

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