New from H&Co: Tungsten Rounded

There’s a wonderful materiality about rounded letters. Their lighter weights have an engineered quality: for me, they always bring to mind the controlled movements of a router, steadily cutting channels in brass or steel and leaving behind a spray of metal shavings. Their heavier weights are the stuff of the roadside, both the vacuform plastic letters that advertise gas stations and motels, and the painted signs that herald this week’s prices for groceries or liquor. Applying these tactile qualities to our suave Tungsten family gives us Tungsten Rounded, a new family of six fonts that’s at once earnest, energetic, and wry.

A common dilemma when working with rounded typefaces is what to do when two adjacent letters overlap. For the signpainter, the tiny divet created by two intersecting curves is quickly dispatched with a brush, but the letters in a typeface usually go unsupervised:

In Tungsten Rounded’s heaviest weights, we addressed this problem with a set of 151 alternate characters, designed to interact in more predictable ways. An OpenType feature automatically engages these characters when needed, to ensure that all of the 548 potential collisions are managed correctly, from common pairs like AX, to truly exotic ones such as .

Introducing THE NEW TUNGSTENS

Typeface: Tungsten Compressed

A good type family balances cohesion and diversity. Its styles need to feel related, but each is entitled to its own personality. Nothing’s worse than paying for a collection of two dozen fonts, only to discover that each speaks in exactly the same voice.

Tungsten began as a focussed set of styles that aspired to being disarming instead of pushy. “Smart, tough, and sexy” was how we described the design, a brief that gave us enough latitude to create four distinct designs: a sporty Medium, an articulate Semibold, a stylish Bold, and a persuasive Black. We stopped at four, discovering that so many of the strategies that served the design in these proportions became impractical at lighter weights. Tungsten is all about the interplay between positive and negative space, a relationship that disappears when the strokes become thin, and the spaces cavernous. So while we could make the design perform mechanically at lighter weights, it no longer felt like Tungsten.

But then we discovered something interesting. We found different strategies to use at these proportions, which could make the design look familiar but feel different. We created new designs whose forthrightness came through in different ways: some were elegant, others earnest. And when we started exploring different widths, we found we could gradually turn up the volume, and watch Tungsten go from cool to vibrant to ecstatic.

So today, we’re delighted to introduce The New Tungstens, a set of four different widths, each in eight weights, starting at $199. The full collection includes Regular, Narrow, Condensed and Compressed, and right now you can save $300 when you buy the complete collection of 32 styles.

Things We Love

Typeface: Knockout

When we designed the Knockout type family, which celebrates the exuberance of nineteenth century wood type, we wondered: what designer would knowingly use the fonts to recall a world of quack medical cures and traveling vaudevillians? The answer, as it so often turns out to be, is “smart aleck Canadian advertising agencies.” Behold the truly excellent Grip Limited, who have created a typographic tour-de-force in Knockout (and a little Archer) that really repays scrolling in all directions. I especially like the end of the second column. —JH

Things We Love

Typeface: Knockout

This morning’s post by the always-fertile Grain Edit reminds me that I’ve wanted to write something in appreciation of Mark Weaver. As with so many things I like, Weaver’s work is difficult to classify: design? illustration? art? The term “collage” might do as a formal description, but it’s a shabby word to describe Weaver’s mysterious inventions, which so successfully bypass both the senses and the intellect and go straight to the mid-brain. His tableaux that simultaneously evoke grange exhibits, Japanese consumer goods, early David Bowie, and recent Wes Anderson — without ever quoting any of them literally — are worth experiencing up close; spend some time with his Make Something Cool Every Day series, and I think you’ll leave intriguied, delighted, and inspired. —JH

New Fonts: A Graphic Designer’s Perspective

Typeface: Tungsten

Most graphic designers choose the fonts that best fit their projects. Brian Hennings does the opposite: he chooses the projects that best fit the fonts. A resident designer at Hoefler & Frere-Jones, Brian shares with me the responsibility of creating all of the sample art you’ll find on this site. His is a strange universe of the fictitious: signage programs for mythical cities, book jackets for unwritten novels, product literature for items you cannot buy, broadcast graphics for live sporting events that you can’t quite identify. (They might have a ball, horses, cars, rifles, or all of the above.) His fake cookbook recipes have immaculate typography, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to cook from any of them.

Two weeks ago, we released our new Tungsten font family, accompanied by an unusually large collection of sample art: Brian and I just couldn’t put the new fonts down. The feedback we received was extraordinary in both its kindness and its volume, and I was especially happy to see so many designers specifically mention the art that we’d worked so hard to create. Since Brian’s job gives him a unique perspective on typography — plus enviable access to fonts that the rest of the world won’t see for years — I asked him to share some of his observations about the process: what it’s like to use a new font that no one’s ever used, what it tells you about itself, and what it reveals about typography in general. Without further ado, here’s Brian. —JH

Continues…

Introducing Tungsten

Typeface: Tungsten

A few years ago, we started wondering if there was a way to make a flat-sided sans serif that was disarming instead of brutish, one that employed confidence and subtlety instead of just raw testosterone. It was an unusual design brief for ourselves, completely without visual cues and trading in cultural associations instead: “more Steve McQueen than Steven Seagal,” reads one note; “whiskey highball, not a martini” suggests another.

The result is Tungsten®, a tight family of high-impact fonts in four weights: muscular and persuasive, without sacrificing wit, versatility, or style. Now starting at $99.

The New Gothams: 46 New Fonts from H&FJ.

Typeface: Gotham

Fans of our Gotham typeface will be pleased to find that as of this morning, there are three times as many Gothams in the world as there were yesterday.

Designers who work with Gotham have enthusiastically deployed the fonts in a range of environments. We’ve seen Gotham on soda cans, boarding passes, billboards and banner ads; we’ve seen it engraved in marble on a cornerstone, and cast in rubber on the sole of a shoe. One newspaper used Gotham for financial listings, another for saucy tabloid headlines. But what we see the most are designers facing the challenge of making one typeface work across all channels. Last year saw one of the most remarkable examples of this: journalists couldn’t stop writing about something that designers have always known, which is that a candidate for president should use the same font for everything, from lawn signs and flyers to the campaign’s website.

Making a font work everywhere is a tall order. H&Co’s designers love these kinds of challenges, and are driven by an incurable compulsion to make fonts that can answer everyone’s needs. But designing a typeface is an arduous process requiring serious commitment, and we realized early on that if we weren’t careful, there could suddenly be an endless number of very specialized Gothams. The prospect of a “Gotham for embroidery” collection and a “Gotham for box scores” was daunting, and ran counter to one of H&Co’s core philosophies: that type families should be as small as possible, but as large as necessary.

So we organized all of these ideas into a coherent design brief, mapped out a way to bring a larger Gotham family to life, and then devoted years to drawing the new fonts that we’re delighted to present today. Today’s Gotham contains a total of 66 styles, neatly organized into four widths: regular Gotham, the new Gotham Narrow and Extra Narrow, and the newly-expanded Gotham Condensed. They’re all now available, in packages starting at $169, exclusively at H&Co.

Indy Boys Fly The Biggest Heds

Now that’s what I call a banner headline. Yesterday’s Indy Star had a nice enough 180pt Gotham Condensed on page one, but it took a win for the Colts in Superbowl XLI to produce this whopper: a 9,800pt headline emblazoned on the outside of the newspaper’s offices. Biggest Gotham ever?

Eli Manning’s got to be wondering why, after quarterbacking the Giants to a victory in Superbowl XLII, he hasn’t gotten the same reception as his brother Peyton here. Every single one of the New York dailies uses an H&FJ font, and our office buildings are considerably taller: couldn’t 620 Eighth Avenue or 220 West 42nd Street manage a Gotham Condensed headline in 50,000pt? (Where’s that Christo guy when you need him?) —JH

A Banner Day

Typeface: Gotham Condensed Bold and Black

Primary season means banner headlines, and banner headlines mean condensed fonts. Above, some of our favorite Gothamophiles working hard to cement Gotham’s connection to politics; here’s Gotham Condensed being put through its paces at a range of sizes. Scott Goldman wins the size prize at The Indianapolis Star — and his state wasn’t even voting yesterday!

We’ll post some political front pages from the New York papers, provided they ever stop talking about the Superbowl. —JH

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