Akkordeon is a display font family roughly inspired by grotesques from the XIX and XX centuries. It is not conceived as a family of constant width but has a variable breadth from narrow to expanded, offering a wide gradation of weights. Akkordeon is designed to be used in short texts such as magazine titles, banners, cover books, charts, advertising, branding and any situation where a compact, solid and powerful font is required... 

Akkordeon is a display font family roughly inspired by grotesques from the XIX and XX centuries. It is not conceived as a family of constant width but has a variable breadth from narrow to expanded, offering a wide gradation of weights. Akkordeon is designed to be used in short texts such as magazine titles, banners, cover books, charts, advertising, branding and any situation where a compact, solid and powerful font is required. 

 

 

The increase of width and visual weight in Akkordeon is not linear. The width, shown in blue, it is progressive across the gradient: while the visual weight, shown in red, becomes almost constant in the bolder styles.

 

Akkordeon is not structured as a typical typographic family where weight and width go separately, Akkordeon does not differentiate between one and the other. The name of the family, Akkordeon (accordion in German) tries to reflect that same idea of flexibility. As a result, the names of the styles also escape the standard nomenclature, they are structured in numbers from one to fourteen to show both the change of weight and width. As the letters increase in weight it stops being condensed in order to accommodate the extra weight. Heavy weights contain an unusual amount of black making them the right choice when impact and force is needed. However the lightest and more condensed weights are subtle and elegant.

 

 

A sample of the letters evolution across the weights. From the compressed thin to the expanded bold in fourteen subtle but significant steps. 

 

In the early XX century the idea of type family was more flexible and less defined than now. Nowadays it is a common thing to create a range of weights between light and bold and in some cases width variations from condensed to expanded. In the past, however, the number of styles of a family and their characteristics were defined by changing needs during different years or even decades mixing width and weight freely. 

 

 

Examples of width and weight increase in a series from American Wood Type: 1828-1900: Notes on the Evolution of Decorated and Large Types and Comments on Related Trades of the Period. New York: Da Capo, 1969 by Rob Roy Kelly.

 

It is not conceived as a family of constant width but has a variable breadth from narrow to expanded, offering a wide gradation of weights.

 

According to Rob Roy Kelly, in some traditional wood types, a width increase was usually accompanied by a weight increase. Varying the width of the styles as they gained weight, a great versatility was achieved because this range of styles easily adapted to changing length texts. These expanding type designs were more popular in the United States than in Europe and there are many turn of the century examples of sprawling series much less systematically designed than later families. 

 

 

Several grotesques from the XIX and XX centuries that were a source of inspiration for several details in the letters and numbers shapes. The images are from Rob Roy Kelly’s American Wood Type:1828-1900. New York: Da Capo, 1969. American Type Founders Company Specimen Book and Catalogue 1923. New Jersey: ATF, 1923. Genzsch & Heyse Schriftgiesserei Proben Von Schriften Und Initialen. Hamburg-München: Genzsch & Heyse, 1913. Inland Type Foundry Pony Specimen Book. Sant Louis: Inland, 1907.

 

In Akkordeon, the weight becomes massive in some styles. Although it starts as a very thin and condensed font, there comes a moment that the increment of weight implies expansion. We decided not to be restrained by the original width but to widen the shapes so as to accommodate an extra amount of black. Combined with adaptive flat sides across the weights, this family achieves its heavy weights without losing its identity and without becoming a caricature of itself.

 

Detail of the adaptive flat sides, reducing the segment as the weight increases. We have used a design space including the five masters above in order to have more control of every detail across the whole system.

 

Thanks to a path that is not often explored, and having some characters with an untamed touch, Akkordeon becomes somewhat special. With that particular approach and family structure, a very rich palette was created, the light weights work as real space saving fonts and the bolder ones become strong for headlines. Akkordeon is specially designed for use in combination with text fonts to generate contrast, like similar typefaces were used it in the past for traditional shows, fair and circus posters and more.

 

 

Some characters with turn of the century grotesques influence 

 

The type family consist of 14 weights and it is available for Desktop, Webfont, ePub, App and Server with support for Central and Eastern European languages. Akkordeon is a versatile display font that offers a wide range of weights as well as creative options.  / 

 

 

View Akkordeon  /  View Akkordeon Slab

 

 

Typography is a key factor in any graphic identity, but when we talk about a journal this takes special relevance. A newspaper is virtually done only with typography, it could be done without pictures, but not without words. A custom typeface gives cohesion to all the elements of an identity and when we use the font, no matter the application, we are strengthening the brand. Periódico (newspaper in spanish), was originally commissioned by Alfredo Triviño for the spanish daily newspaper ABC. Inspired by old spanish typographic engravings, mostly from the second half of the XVIII century, we picked out the most relevant details of spanish typography as the source of inspiration, and instead of making a revival or an interpretation of these models, we started from scratch to create a truly original font family...

Typography is a key factor in any graphic identity, but when we talk about a journal this takes special relevance. A newspaper is virtually done only with typography, it could be done without pictures, but not without words. A custom typeface gives cohesion to all the elements of an identity and when we use the font, no matter the application, we are strengthening the brand. Periódico (newspaper in spanish), was originally commissioned by Alfredo Triviño for the spanish daily newspaper ABC. Inspired by old spanish typographic engravings, mostly from the second half of the XVIII century, we picked out the most relevant details of spanish typography as the source of inspiration, and instead of making a revival or an interpretation of these models, we started from scratch to create a truly original font family. 

 

The goal was to achieve a very distinctive family, functional and versatile while still reminiscent of the old spanish typography. Before starting to draw, we began to thoroughly investigate what is understood by the term ‘Spanish typography’. At the very first stages of the design process, we came up with a classic semi-condensed serif. It was elegant but not very distinctive. It was mandatory to push up the envelope a little bit, to step back from the fonts used in rest of the spanish newspapers.

 

 

The timeline above shows the most relevant events in typography history, comparing the activity between Spain and the rest of the world. It starts before 1500 and ends in mid 18th century, and the main period for the spanish typography was the second half of the XVIII century. Before and after that moment the type-related events in Spain were sparse.

 

There were specific needs to meet, so we took a more daring and bespoke approach. Trying to design a refined yet differential typeface, modern and contemporary but keeping a link with the Spanish typographic past. With that idea in mind, the proportions, the contrast, and the serifs were changed to create a genuine newspaper-ready font, evolving and updating the shapes from the past without copying them literally.

 

 

The first and the third image are taken from “Muestras de los punzones y matrices de la letra que se funde en el obrador de la Imprenta Real”. Madrid: Imprenta Real, 1799. The center image is from “Carácteres de la Imprenta Real en 1788”. Madrid: Imprenta Real, 1788.

 

As a result, the letters ‘a’ and ‘g’ are probably the most distinctive of the Periódico family. The shape of the bowl in the letter ‘a’  with the top arch in a diagonal position is very characteristic of old spanish types. In Periódico we emphasize this detail by applying it to many other letters (like ‘u’, ‘j’ and ‘t’) up to a point that it became the ‘leitmotiv’ of this family.

Selection of formal principles from historical references. All these design details define the system and give cohesion. 

 

Although we have borrowed many details from the old spanish typography, (like the nail, present in the letters ‘U’  ‘G’ or ‘J’, which we worked on and evolved in order to be applied to other letters) we have also left behind several others. One example is the tilde of the ‘ñ’ engraved by Gerónimo Gil, a very distinctive element of spanish typography that was intentionally omitted for being to atypical for use in a contemporary font. 

 

The goal was to achieve a very distinctive family, functional and versatile while still reminiscent of the old spanish typography.

 

The formal finish of serifs and terminals is something that gives great personality to any typeface, so we came up with plenty of alternatives in order to find the exact shape we wanted; sober, elegant and contemporary. Even though the serifs are geometric, the upper terminals have a curve with very similar dynamics to the arch in the ‘a’ or the notch in the ‘j’  The terminals in the capitals follow the same style but in this case the inspiration comes from Pradell's Missal, which on the other hand has been influenced by the types engraved by Johann Michael Fleischman in the Netherlands.

 

A preliminary poster version for really large sizes. Finally this weight was not developed because its use would be very restricted.

 

Eighteenth-century types were mostly used for printing books and so they have very generous proportions (large ascendents and descendants) and high contrast, but today these characteristics do not work well in newspapers as the news world demands more space-saving fonts. The adaptation of the type's proportions for newspaper use was one of the most interesting parts of the project, specially the time taken to find the perfect balance between the x height and legibility. 

 

Formal principle that guides the design, to create a palette of repeating shapes that are interrelated. The idea was to create a formal system that could be transferred to each element of the font.

Directly derived from the ‘a’, this corner is present in different parts of several letters, giving Spanish flavor to the whole thing.

Comparison between Periódico Text and Periódico Display. The display version is slightly different, it has more contrast and a tighter spacing.

 

Regarding the styles, one might argue that as so many variables are needed this gives many more choices to the designers, giving them more tools to do their job well. It's a matter of probabilities so we create a really complete typographic palette to choose from. For that reason, Periódico is presented in 30 different styles, 10 fonts for text (from Light to Bold) and 20 fonts for display sizes (from Thin to Ultra Black); this family results in an extensive system capable of solving all the needs of a large publication.

 

 

View Periódico

 

 

Geogrotesque is a sans serif typeface family created in 2008. It has since grown to become a classic of the square genre. Coming up with a version of Geogrotesque is always a challenge, and making a slab is no exception as the structure of the letters need to be substantially modified. When creating a slab or serif version from a sans, the challenge is to achieve a fully recognizable font that works as part of the existing family. We wanted the font to be credible and not to become a caricature of itself...

Geogrotesque is a sans serif typeface family created in 2008. It has since grown to become a classic of the square genre. Coming up with a version of Geogrotesque is always a challenge, and making a slab is no exception as the structure of the letters need to be substantially modified. When creating a slab or serif version from a sans, the challenge is to achieve a fully recognizable font that works as part of the existing family. We wanted the font to be credible and not to become a caricature of itself. The font had to communicate the essence of Geogrotesque, to be perceived as an extension that would add new attributes without removing or overlapping the existing ones. In short, the key was to expand the visual vocabulary to convey the same message in a different way.  

 

Comparison between the original Geogrotesque and the new Slab.

 

The slab process does not simply involve adding serifs. When you incorporate serifs the visual width of each letter changes, some letters become wider, others narrower. All the relationships change and therefore one must try to compensate for this. For example: the H is wider than the O, a problem that has various solutions (to try a narrower H, or a wider O, for instance). As Geogrotesque is already a subtly condensed typeface, we decided to widen the O in order to preserve the general visual proportions.

 

Details of the serif height variations and the redraw curves on some letters.

 

The Slab genre, arguably has the loudest voice. Also known as Egyptian, fonts like this have some quirks that make their design particularly intricate. Although these kind of geometric slabs usually have minimal variation in stroke width (with a similar contrast to the sans typefaces), they also have a very heavy serif (thick, block-like serif). The combination of these factors leaves limited space as the letters gain weight, therefore countless ink traps and optical corrections are required.  

 

 

The first image is Antique, taken from Vincent Figgins Type Specimens 1801 and 1815 (Facsimile). London: Printing Historical Society, 1967. The image below shows Memphis from Specimen Book of Linotype Faces. Brooklyn, NY: Mergenthaler Linotype, 1939.

 

In addition to the serifs, the terminals are another distinctive element. Deciding where to put the terminals has been no easy task. What looks good in one letter can be totally dissonant in another or could considerably change the texture of the text. As a reference we used historical classics like Antique, possibly the first geometric slab typeface with low contrast, and Memphis. We have employed a flexible and pragmatic approach, without ever losing sight of the objective to recognize Geogrotesque in the final outcome.  

 

When creating a slab or serif version from a sans, the challenge is to achieve a fully recognizable font that works as part of the existing family.

 

Geogrotesque Slab transmits the same attributes as the sans version. The new font remains clean and tech with a human touch yet provides a new security, confidence and firmness. Nevertheless, it maintains its closeness without getting too serious or solemn. The result is a multipurpose family especially suitable for magazines, brochures, branding and any intermediate length text. Above all, Geogrotesque Slab is the ideal companion of the original Geogrotesque. 

 

A sample of the subtly different personalities of both Geogrotesque.

 

The type family consist of 14 styles 7 weights (Thin, UltraLight, Light, Regular, Medium, SemiBold and Bold) plus italics. It is available for desktop and WebFont and includes ligatures, tabular figures, fractions, numerators, denominators, superiors and inferiors with support for Central and Eastern European languages.

 

 

View Geogrotesque Slab

 

A ‘relato' (short story in Spanish) is a written piece in narrative form that does not have enough pages to be considered a novel and so few to be defined as a traditional tale. We liked the idea of creating a typeface for medium length texts. It gave us the chance to create a more personal font and released us from the burden of traditional text types. The first Relato sketches were made in late 2003, the idea was to make an individual type with unique features, reflecting a human quality while respecting the characteristics of the text typefaces...

A ‘relato' (short story in Spanish) is a written piece in narrative form that does not have enough pages to be considered a novel and so few to be defined as a traditional tale. We liked the idea of creating a typeface for medium length texts. It gave us the chance to create a more personal font and released us from the burden of traditional text types. The first Relato sketches were made in late 2003, the idea was to make an individual type with unique features, reflecting a human quality while respecting the characteristics of the text typefaces. The purpose here was to make neither a font with a Latin feel, nor one with the coldness of a clean and austere language. Relato has little contrast and a muscular structure which favors its use in texts. In display sizes, it has a lot of details that gives it personality. The formal principle of the serif, the variety of terminal, and the combinations of curves with semi straights give Relato a human flavor.

 

 

 

The serif of Relato are inspired by Albrecht Dürer model but have a slightly more elaborate structure, but as in the original model, all the cuts correspond to segments of circles.

 

Inspiration came from a variety of traditional calligraphic styles, such as lowercase inspired by the humanistic calligraphy and the uppercase in Renaissance Roman Capitals, especially in studies done by Albrecht Dürer circa 1510. It must be said that the proportions had to be balanced because the Dürer system is too artificial and lacks the sensitivity of the human eye. But even so, Relato has a decidedly contemporary look, due to it is also based on ideals about type design. 

 

A relato, short story in Spanish, is a written piece in narrative form that does not have enough pages to be considered a novel and so few to be defined as a traditional tale.

 

In text sizes the general proportions define the personality of the font, while in display sizes it is the terminal strokes, the serif that provides character. In this regard, Dürer studies also served as inspiration to build the serif palette. Although construction has a geometric origin, this is only anecdotal; the final result conveys certain informality rather than rationality. Although variety is one of the most remarkable qualities of this typeface, unity can be achieved even with disparate elements, different terminals and mixture of curves. This is essential to achieve a dynamic and lively font.

 

 

Terminal strokes palette to control the formal variety. Details of the letters.

 

Comparison between roman and italic.

 

The texture of Italic differs from the Roman as the construction is based on broken lines. Apart from its unique rhythm, the structure of the Italic does not reveal any special features at text sizes, however upon closer inspection some details appear (the broken lines being the most obvious). When used at display sizes there is a special dynamic with some aggressive and even spicy touches.

 

Contrast in the strokes joint.

 

The bold weights increase the contrast at the junction of the lines to improve legibility on small bodies and strengthen their personality in display sizes. As in Bohemia the weight difference is noticeable, but for the average reader it is hard to appreciate the subtle differences of weight. The contrast is a crucial factor, although there is very little difference between the horizontal and vertical lines (it is a typeface of low contrast) the area where the arc is born is highly contrasted and no black mass is formed (as in past century Dutch fonts). The weight increase was performed in a manual mode without using any automatism. This method control of the shape in a sensitive way, some areas fatten a lot and others perhaps just a little. 

 

 

Interpretation of Mona Lisa by Fernando Botero.

 

Something similar happens with the work of artist Fernando Botero. There seems to be a direct relationship between the way his characters are made and how bold is built. Botero does not fatten everything equally, but uses his sensitivity to keep some details stylized. So despite being fat, his characters do not look misshapen, they maintain the original essence. The Relato Serif family consists on Regular, Italic, Small Caps, Semibold and Bold. 

 

In 2016, more than ten years after its release, Relato Serif has been updated, it now supports Central and Eastern European languages, some characters were adjusted, Ligatures were added as well as Tabular Figures, Fractions, Numerators, Denominators, Superiors and Inferiors. 

 

View Relato

  

*This article was originally published in Spanish by this website in 2005.