• Transform magazine
  • May 21, 2019

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Fontsmith launches pioneering type system

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London-based independent type foundry, Fontsmith, has introduced an innovative adaptive type system, FS Industrie, designed around five different widths and seven different weights, creating a total of 70 alternatives.

Talking about the new release, Fontsmith’s type design director, Phil Garnham, says, “We are on the cusp of a new age in digital typeface design where the ability to vary a font’s weight and width axis offers limitless possibilities to graphic designers within any given space.”

Close to two years after their first release in September 2016, variable fonts are still a topic of discussion and the technology is still in development. Variable font is a single font file that behaves like multiple fonts, meaning that it has a flexibility of weight, width and other elements without gaining file size. In order to meet the demands of variable type, designers will need to significantly upgrade their equipment. Until then, FS Industrie serves as a peek into the future.

Designed by Phil Garnham and Fernando Mello, FS Industrie manages to convey a modern, precise and minimalist artistic taste without being too techy and losing its human touch. Drawing inspiration from classic German fonts from the 1930s, the font combines functionality with progressiveness.

The starting point of the font’s design was the designers’ understanding of its role in the new media platforms. Good on-screen translation was the main requirement, while quirkiness and an eye-catching quality were also important, especially for the brand and marketing communications.

According to Garnham, “It is the spirit of variable design and flexibility that drove us to create FS Industrie. A response to the changing nature of type, for brands that are responding to the changing nature of work.”

In the framework of FS Industrie’s promotion, Fontsmith hired UK and Canada-based design studio Believe in, which has collaborated with the brand in the past, to launch a new campaign. The campaign includes 1000 special type specimens, each one personalised for its receiver.

Believe in’s creative director, Blair Thomson, says, “The idea behind the campaign connects our industrial past to our technological future, combining traditional and more recent production methods, and pushing the limits of what’s currently possible. So many type specimens are designed to be seen but not read, we wanted to create something more interesting and engaging for our audience.”

The type specimens use information collected through an online survey in which more than 400 creative professionals took part. Each cover has personalised name laser cut into it using a ‘punched card’ alphabet, with the openings revealing a limited edition letterpress print.

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