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 .

Made with Cloud.typography

Navigator Logistics

Endearing animations and meticulous type strike just the right tone in this small site for an international company.

When Navigator Logistics, a forwarding service company in Finland, brought on designer Nigel Payne to update their site, the collaboration resulted in a fresh design full of crisp typography and lively illustrations. “Right from the get-go, I knew the site’s illustrations were going to be in a limited color palette, and line-based,” said Payne. “I wanted a typeface that paired nicely with the technical blueprint style, but also had a little fun about it. Gotham Rounded felt just a little younger than his older, more sober brother, Gotham.”

Payne built the site around a compact palette, using just two weights of our Gotham Rounded ScreenSmart family. Though ScreenSmart fonts are engineered specifically for text sizes, Navigator Logistics uses them with equal success in headline sizes, using CSS letterspacing to manage the fonts’ fit, coaxing lovely voices out each style.

The site uses subtle changes in typography, illustration style, and animation to distinguish three discrete sections, presenting an overview, a list of capabilities, and contact details within a single page.

For mobile users, CSS media queries not only reshape the grid and eliminate discretionary details, but introduce buttons for calling the company directly — a smart use of the medium, and a thoughtful detail for users. —NW

Never Looked Better

Typeface: Gotham Rounded Bold

In the year and change since we released the Gotham Rounded family, I’ve noticed an unusual paradox at play. Some designers choose the fonts because of their high-tech associations, and can coax out of them an “engineered” quality that evokes the engraved markings on keyboards and camera lenses (both prime ingredients in Gotham Rounded’s design.) Others choose the fonts because they’re friendly, and use them to achieve a playful tone that’s somewhere between a kids’ science book and a Japanese synthpop single. But every once in a while, someone chooses the fonts for both reasons, finding a way to reconcile these seemingly contrary intentions in a single piece of design. Scott Dadich, the Creative Director of Wired, has a knack for making type do two things at once, but only when he’s not making it do twelve things at once. (He’s one of those publication designers who makes me glad I stuck with type design.) Together with his dream team, designers Wyatt Mitchell, Margaret Swart, and Christy Sheppard, Scott introduces in the September issue of Wired a redesign that features Gotham Rounded, in what I think is an incredibly smart application.

The magazine’s Play section, once home to gadgets and new technology, now exhibits more of the broadly philosophical thinking that distinguishes the very intriguing Wired of the 21st century. The addition of Gotham Rounded is just part of a design strategy designed to give the section a more distinct voice and a clearer point of view: another smart device is the yellow “progress bar” that tracks the movement of the section, and makes for some marvelous visual serendipity when it intersects both type and image. But positively brilliant are the dominating initials that form a sort of periodic table of themes: a general topic is abstracted from each article, which is represented by a two-letter abbreviation, which signals the nature of the writing to follow. It’s a very clever way of reinforcing the magazine’s editorial range — and reminding readers that Wired is not about things but about ideas — and it excitingly builds anticipation for next month’s issue: will it cover these same topics? New ones? It’s one of the most striking and original solutions I’ve ever seen for building a genuine section-within-a-section, a daunting challenge for any magazine. Wired achieves it with spectacular success. —JH

Type in Three Dimensions

Taking a break from my top secret Independence Day project that combines typography and patriotism (more about this later), I came across something marvelous that I had to share.

The August 2008 issue of Print has this arresting image on the cover. I recognized that the typography grew out of our Gotham Rounded font, which is the magazine’s signature typeface, and had assumed that this treatment was a clever and curious bit of digital rendering on someone’s part. It is and it isn’t: designer Karsten Schmidt used software of his own devising to give Gotham Rounded’s polished letterforms these intriguingly organic roots (using a branch of mathematical modeling called reaction diffusion) but then fed these digital inputs into a 3-D “printer” in order to produce a physical object.

I’m fascinated by 3-D printers (read: want one.) They’re essentially inkjet printers, but instead of rendering an image using a grid of ink splatters on a page, they produce successive cross-sections of an object by strategically injecting liquid binder into a polymer powder. Taken together, these high-resolution cross-sections form a dimensional object, like the one Schmidt produced here. Print is running an article describing the making of the cover, and its designer has detailed the entire process, step-by-step, in this illuminating Flickr set. Check it out! —JH

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