8 July, 2011
Typefacial Recognition at H&FJ Labs
Typeface: Ideal Sans
We're generally content to control font outlines by pushing points around on a screen, but an intuitive interface for managing the entire gestalt of a type family remains elusive. H&FJ's Andy Clymer tends to develop fonts and tools together (one always seems to be the excuse to create the other), and this is his latest exploration: using facial recognition to control the basic parameters of a font's design.
Behold Andy modeling his latest creation, which employs Kyle McDonald's FaceOSC library, GlyphMath from RoboFab, and Tal Leming's Vanilla to mutate the geometries behind our Ideal Sans typeface in realtime. I'm intrigued by the potential to control local and global qualities of a typeface at the same time: fingers and mouse to design the details, faces and cameras to determine their position in a whole realm of design possibilities. I wonder about the possibilities of a facial feedback loop, in which one's expression of wonder and delight could instantly undo a moment of evanescent beauty. And then there are the possibilities of environmental pathogens affecting letterforms: what might too much caffeine, air conditioning, or ragweed pollen do to a typeface? Listening to Louis C.K.? Too many whiskey sours? —JH
24 September, 2010
Now Hiring: Web Developer & Programmer
So you love HTML5. You're psyched that the IE9 beta looks so promising, because you've got enough IE6 war stories, though personally you're rocking the latest Firefox nightly. Sometimes you can't remember what life was like before jQuery, but in a pinch you're prepared to roll your own library. (Which, let's face it, makes you feel a little like MacGyver, and you like working with folks who notice.) And you've spent a lot of time noodling with @font-face. A lot. Is this you? Come and work among kindred spirits: H&FJ is looking for a full-time front-end developer to make a significant contribution to the ever-evolving typography.com. Position filled!
You can feel when things are built correctly, and can smell a kludge at fifty paces. You know how to run a test and assess its results, and how to shepherd your source-controlled code all the way from development to release. You're someone who likes to reduce a problem down to a set of tasks, and you're intimately familiar with the sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing all the parts come together. You write modular code because you hate doing the same thing twice, but you're always up for doing something five different ways just to be sure. And your middle name is LAMP. If this is you, come join us as a full-time web programmer at Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Position filled!
16 February, 2010
The Tablet Magazine
Wired gets it. Today they’re going public with the prototype they shared with us a few weeks ago, and if you’re like me, your reaction will be an instantaneous “neat!” followed immediately by “well, isn’t it obvious it was supposed to work this way?” When something creates and fulfills expectations at the same time, you know you’ve got it right. —JH
21 December, 2009
Uptown App, for iPhones
Manhattan’s urban grid is a vaunted model of simplicity, a rectilinear plan of numbered streets intersecting numbered avenues. Never mind that West 4th Street crosses West 10th, that those walking from Fifth Avenue to Third Avenue will seldom encounter Fourth Avenue, and that “North” in the New York sense differs from conventional "North" to the tune of 29°. It’s this kind of accuracy, transparency and accountability that makes New York the perfect home for Wall Street.
A fixture of the corner of Broadway and Houston, where H&FJ makes its home, is a tourist population forever asking that question of the ages, “which way is uptown?” I can’t entirely blame them: in the math of the NYC grid, Houston is 0th Street, and local signs wickedly conceal the real names of avenues below fake labels that are designed specifically to ensnare tourists. (Watch the meter when you ask a taxi driver to take you anywhere on “Avenue of the Americas.”)
To the rescue comes H&FJ’s own Andy Clymer, whose joint interests in typography, programming, and human decency are combined in Uptown App, his new utility for the iPhone 3GS. Andy’s thoughtfully used some of our fonts on what’s actually a pretty handy app: because it uses the iPhone’s built-in magnetometer, it can give you a quick read on “uptown” in places where GPS signals and cellular networks are unavailable or slow to come online, like when stepping out of freezing cold subway stations. Compared to the inconvenience of frostbite, 99¢ is a genuine bargain. —JH