Friday, January 14, 2011

Typography: what's in a name?

Luciano Sormani in Kabel, final.
Pen and marker on illustration board.
Luciano Sormani in Kabel
pencil, pen, marker and highlighter on paper
Luciano Sormani in Kabel, sketch 02
pencil, pen and marker on paper

In researching typefaces that represent me, I thought of a couple of criteria that would have to apply. First of all I wanted a font that was modern and not tied too closely to a specific era or style. That pretty much excluded most of the serif and decorative fonts, even though there were a few of those that had attributes that I really liked; the stylishness of Mucha, the sturdy severity of Kelmscott. I decided it had to be a sans serif font. I’ve always liked the family of fonts that include Twentieth Century and Lucida, they have a very modern feel and I like their geometric simplicity. Yet I didn’t want something that was purely rational and mechanic. That’s when I settled on Kabel. Its geometric shapes are very well balanced and yet the angled edges of the strokes give it a certain playfulness. It’s like it tries to be severe and perfectionistic, yet at the same time it’s highly inconsistent. There’s a lot of variation between the widths of the letterforms and the way the ends are slanted gives the impression that they are dancing over the page. As Wikipedia puts it: 
 Stroke weights are more varied than most geometric sans-serifs, and the terminus of vertical strokes are cut to a near eight-degree angle. This has the effect of not quite sitting on the baseline and making for a more animated, less static feeling than Futura.“
The C’s and O’s are perfectly round and safe, but the M’s and N’s have sharp points that almost give them a dangerous edge. The only thing I don’t like about this font is the dots on the lower case I’s and J’s, but it’s a small imperfection that gives it character and is easily forgiven.To me, Kabel gives a sense of uncluttered geometry that inspires clean, simple designs and yet is quirky enough to be fun. For this project I decided to do something with geometric shapes that give it an almost constructivistic feel, yet also reminds me of an 80’s style. It is the era that formed my esthetic sensibilities after all. 
Kabel, like me, is serious and rational at first, but on closer inspection reveals a quirky and humorous side. It aspires to perfection but only succeeds to a certain level, it’s balanced and adapts to different uses. It’s modern and yet retains a timeless quality.

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