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Get friendly with five feisty faces from Type-Ø-Tones

Josema Urós and Laura Meseguer warm the Type Network catalog with a simpatico quintet, including Harri, designed by Juan Luis Blanco, a winsome homage to the indigenous letterforms of the Basque Country.

As the days grow longer and sunnier in the northern hemisphere, Type-Ø-Tones steps in to help make things even brighter. While introducing us to four of their well-loved classics, the Spanish outfit also premieres an imaginative new display design replete with cultural references.

Comparison of Arboria and Arbotek

Arboria and Arbotek are siblings: their letterforms are based on the same geometry.

Although Type-Ø-Tones’ offerings are typically eclectic, two of these five new additions are actually closely related. Urós’ Arboria and Arbotek share the same underlying structure, as though different muscular textures were attached to a single type of skeleton.

With Arboria, Urós started from the concept of an archetypal architectural sans, seeking inspiration in shapes that were prevalent in graphics and the urban landscape of the first half of the twentieth century. He then introduced grotesque elements into the geometric forms, rendering the letters more humane. With their generous x-height and open apertures, Arboria’s wide characters look modern, yet bear a refined art deco air. As with other Type-Ø-Tones faces, Arboria offers a friendly, outgoing alternative to the more reserved designs of the genre. With six weights in roman and italic, the family is a fine fit for editorial work.

Comparison of Arboria and Arbotek

While the grotesque influences in its geometric design make Arboria fit for text, Arbotek’s unabashedly architectural shapes are clearly meant for display use.

Arbotek is based on the same foundation as Arboria, but was built with a more radical approach to pure geometric forms. Arbotek is unabashedly architectural; its outspoken letterforms indicate it is meant solely for display use. The delicate Thin and Light seem to be lifted straight from an architect’s plans, with the rounded variant for the Light suggesting letters drawn by hand with pen and ink. The forceful Ultra references the gorgeous hand lettering found on vintage art deco posters from the 1920s–30s.

Joost type specimen.

Joost examines how the expressive geometric shapes of the Bauhaus alphabets can be applied to a typeface for general usage.

The strictly geometric letters Joost Schmidt drew for his classic poster Bauhaus im Gewerbemuseum Basel have fascinated José Manuel Urós since his early childhood. Yet Joost is more than a mere examination of the structure of the iconic alphabets developed at the Bauhaus school in Weimar. Urós’ typeface tests how these expressive shapes can be applied in a family intended for general usage. Joost went through many iterations—the original version from 1995 dutifully adhered to the tenets of the Universal Alphabet and contained only lowercase characters. Capital letters were added to the second version released in 2009, with the letter drawings revised and improved. The 2016 update was further expanded to incorporate Central European support and implement OpenType features. The modular Stencil offers many possibilities for attractive display typography. The application of a new system of outline curves ensures that—while the spirit of the original alphabet is preserved—the typeface continues to evolve eighty-eight years after Schmidt’s iconic art came to light.

Comparison of Rumba’s three optical sizes.

An upright serif italic with a strong calligraphic flavor, Rumba explores, in a very personal way, how optical sizes relate to each other.

The seeds for Laura Meseguer’s Rumba were sown during her Type and Media postgraduate year in 2003–04 at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. This sunny, swinging typeface applies calligraphic principles to an upright serif italic. In Rumba’s flowing forms, Meseguer explores the concept of optical sizes in a very personal way. The family’s three styles are each based on a single model, with variations not only in contrast but also in construction and degrees of expressiveness. Each optical size serves a different purpose. Rumba Small is well suited for short texts; Rumba Large is a striking display face, and Rumba Extra beautifully brings out the hand-lettered flavor of the design. Rumba was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in Typeface Design from the Type Directors Club of New York in the TDC2 2005 competition, was included in Typographica’s Favorite Typefaces of 2006, and was named one of the fifty-three best typefaces of the decade in ATypI Letter.2 (2011).

Harri type specimen.

Harri combines historical references and contemporary type design to celebrate the signature letterforms found in the Basque Country.

The latest addition to the Type-Ø-Tones collection is Juan Luis Blanco’s dynamic Harri. Its name—the Basque word for “stone”—refers to the hallmark letterforms found in signage and architecture throughout the Basque Country in Spain. Inspired by these bygone alphabets, Blanco appropriated some of their imaginative features and modernized them without losing sight of their ancestry: Romanesque inscriptions and—dating even further back—Roman capitals. The family’s expressiveness runs the gamut from a delicate, elegant attitude in the lighter weights to sheer unrestrained exuberance in the Extrabold. Harri’s engraved origins are most evident in the pronounced shapes at the heavier end of the spectrum, where pliable strokes and confidently flared endings demand attention. An expansive character set including alternates and ligatures increases Harri’s versatility, making it an ideal choice for display purposes, from branding and packaging to editorial design.

Like all Type-Ø-Tones fonts, Arboria, Arbotek, Joost, Rumba, and Harri are available for print, web, applications, and ePub licensing. Webfonts may be tested free for thirty days. To stay current on all things Type-Ø-Tones, subscribe to Type Network News, our occasional email newsletter featuring font releases, foundry happenings, type and design events, and more.