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Regular, one of our bestselling font families, has been newly updated for greater functionality and wider application… read more
Regular, one of our bestselling font families, has been newly updated for greater functionality and wider application. One of our first releases at Gestalten Fonts, Regular now features Western Latin and Central European character sets (totaling 385 glyphs), OpenType features, and optimization of outlines and kerning.
The basic elements are built up on a matrix and the components are weld together on the basis of the grid, Regular version was born from the original NORM/re-p font.
We are offering a free upgrade to anyone who has purchased the original version of Regular. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
More fonts by Nik Thoenen
Nik Thönen is also the author of the Blender Pro font. Gestalten sits down with Thönen to find out about
Nik Thönen is also the author of the Blender Pro font. Gestalten sits down with Thönen to find out about his passion in designing typefaces and his successful recipe behind Regular and Blender Pro.
How would you describe the character or creative potential of a - or your - typeface?
A typeface design draws on an idea, on things you've seen, on idiosyncrasies and aberrations that constantly recur or that you've noticed. In the case of Regular, it uses an existing character form designed by Norm, reminiscent of sans serif faces drawn in the middle of the last century. They worked on a very constructed basis. I use them more in a graphic, very striking formulation, not so much a typographical one, in this case very Italian - following a typeface tradition you could still see on the first Pendolino tilting trains running between Milan and Zurich, giving the technical details about the coach wonderfully awkwardly in a font related to Regular. The most recent joyous discovery was that on the new Slovakian car number plates the SK under the EU circle of stars proudly presents itself with a stretched S as in the Regular alphabet.
So what is a new typeface for you? Or put in another way, what are the differences today between a new sans serif font like your Blender and Wim Courwel's Gridnik?
I was very impressed at first to find out exactly when Gridnik was designed, in the early 1960s. Perhaps revolutionary is not quite the right word, but Wim Crouwel did his work with extremely sharply and consistently, and blended font design with graphic design in a way that was impressive for his time. With Blender, I tried to design a font that is softer, and more suitable for body text to my way of thinking, but one that despite everything manages with very few typographical highlights and still follows a rigid graphic construction grid.
How does a typeface start to emerge for you? What triggers it, or are you always addressing a particular design problem?
So far developing typefaces has always been linked to a graphic commission. In other words, that triggered developing a new typeface or adapting an existing one.
Do you design your fonts by hand, or directly on the computer? Do you catch yourself drawing characters all the time, when you're phoning, for example?
I used work straight on to the computer. I sketch the idea I want to pursue in illustrator, usually on a very small scale, and then I scribble on the printouts, or glue things on, in a crude, rudimentary way. The idea is to provoke the eye, so that I can see what it is about a character that needs to be changed.
A systematic, consistent approach, that's always a feature of your fonts, nevertheless there's never a feeling that the font has anything forced about it. On the contrary, if you can't keep to a system, then you break with it. Is there a recipe here?
Ultimately it's not about the individual character, but about the overall image of a font. While I'm doing the construction work there are slips, deviations through lack of concentration, resistance to things that are generally prescribed, and that can help to give a typeface its character. But I am absolutely against flourishes and ornament, of course only as far as I and my own work are concerned.
When you write that deigning a typeface starts with its overall image, how do you go on from there to formulate what your design work has to do or the demands made on your font?
As soon as a draft alphabet is in place I study it to see which characters keep breaking out of the character skein or disturb the rhythm unduly. I do some further work on these, doing my utmost not to abandon the character I'm working towards. Then that usually leads to new insights, and these influence other characters in their turn. A skein of characters has two functions. The first is to show the graphic image, whether it's starting to become attractive and where that look is supposed to take it. Then you have the typographic line, how quickly, automatically and easily a written text can be absorbed, and how fluently it reads.
Does developing a typeface start with the character (the individual letter) or are there intermediate stages in which a kind of rhythm develops, as in musical notation?
Development begins with the character. The crucial thing with Blender was how you can build in movement from one character to the next. How does one letter end and where does the other one begin. Something just as important was what angle was given to the end of an upward or downward movement (a, c, e, l, s, r etc.) which helps to shape the overall image.
Can you explain what makes you choose a typeface? Or which typefaces catch your eye as something special?
I find choosing typefaces very hard. Nowadays I tend to draw something new or extend something for every commission. I often redraw individual characters or numerals to provoke a new kind of originality. Mixing numerals and letters from different alphabets to make the typeface look even more enticing.
Does it actually matter whether I use Helvetica or Akzidenz Grotesk? Isn't it more important for the whole concept to have an expressive quality of its own and that all the font has to do is play its part?
No, it definitely does matter. Those fonts convey different moods. Even if it was just the particular designer's mood at that moment that made him or her choose one of the two fonts, it colours the work and at least places it in a period. It acquires its own expressiveness from the way this is handled visually.
As so many new fonts are being drawn, would it not make better sense to revise existing fonts that work well and improve them?
Improve is a relative term. I think it's more exciting to watch how conventions are changing and ways of looking at things are shifting. And ultimately that's not about quality, but about tensions within the typeface and more elaborate formulations within the individual sign. But admittedly you're working to very tight limits, and this can always means that traditional special characteristics are passed over without thinking.
And isn't it tiring that a typeface is never actually finished? A book has to be printed at some point. But you can always find something that's not quite right about a typeface, or is it precisely this that is the challenge?
Fortunately I can always distance myself sufficiently from a typeface at some stage so that I can let it be, with all its obvious mistakes, though they can give a font a charm of its own as well. And these imperfections remain evidence of my capabilities and views at the time it was developed. But I always enjoy being surprised by the way other designers handle and use the typeface.
So how do you see the extended character set you have just made for Blender? Is this still of any interest to you as a designer? Or does that relate to globalization through the internet?
I live in Vienna. Slovenian is spoken 50 km away. Czech and Hungarian. These languages need other special characters in the roman alphabet. Ultimately it is not a particular effort to construct these, and actually it is essential to do justice to all the many different special characteristics of written languages.
There are type families with 60 styles, will Blender or Regular end up like that as well?
Don't worry, that's not what these fonts are about. But what I am interested in doing is adding Cyrillic, Greek and perhaps even Arabic characters to Blender.
What fonts still have to be drawn? Adria Ferrán, the Spanish super chef, answered that question in relation to cookery with "hot ice cream". What would you say in relation to typography?
Hot ice cream is not interesting as ice cream.