Nicely Done: Tré Seals

It’s always thrilling to see designers combining type in interesting ways, an excitement that’s amplified when a designer uses an exceptionally large set of fonts in a single project. But it’s icing on the cake when that designer shows you ways of combining fonts you’d never have expected. Designer Tré Seals accomplishes all of these things in his new portfolio site, which uses a whopping six font families from our collection: Obsidian, Surveyor, Ideal Sans, Ringside, Operator and Tungsten are daringly diverse choices, which Seals uses to great effect, in clever and delightful ways. He takes a methodical, systems-based approach to select and deploy his type: most of the typefaces are only used in one context, others on just one page in the site. Finding them all is a bit of a typographic scavenger hunt, and a rewarding one for the design-minded.

For his project, Seals took inspiration from vintage postal labels, choosing the engraved Obsidian as his cornerstone when creating the type system for the site. Like Obsidian, the Surveyor, Tungsten and Ringside families have historic roots that connect with the traditions of stamps and labels, an assortment to which he added two novel ingredients: the quirky Operator, which serves as a bridge between the old and the new, and for a neutral voice, the clean, Humanist lines of Ideal Sans.

But Seals’s work isn’t only exciting because of the number of faces he uses or the themes they share. What makes it truly special is his creative eye in deploying the fonts in unexpected ways. When many people think of Tungsten, they immediately recall the robust bolder weights with their industrial presence, but Seals opts instead for a lighter weight that achieves an elegant and refined tone. Ringside is a similarly surprising choice: in less careful hands, its Grotesque construction might feel out of place next to Humanist designs like Operator and Ideal Sans, but Seals makes it work by using only uppercase letters, which naturally have simpler and clearer shapes. Overall, the site is a typographic delight that gives the audience a glimpse of Seals’s design inspirations, his systems-based problem solving abilities, and his creativity. He uses each of these six typefaces thoughtfully and with restraint to create an experience that shows off his work in the best possible light. — Bethany Heck

Made with Cloud.typography

USPS Stamps

As part of their continuing work with the United States Postal Service, Journey Group turned to Cloud.typography for the new USPS Stamps website.

Even when “communications” meant an e-mail campaign delivered to 317 readers, Journey Group of Charlottesville, VA recognized that stamps have a story to tell — and not just to collectors. Stamps are built on typography, making the web a natural place to share their rich visual heritage, and making webfonts an important part of the experience.

Though postage stamps can pass unnoticed, their typography is wonderfully playful, and the new USPS Stamps website strikes this balance with aplomb. It delights readers with its typographic grace and wit, but relies on webfonts to perform in a diverse set of circumstances, accompanying an unforeseeable collection of images, and rendering seamlessly across all the browsers used by the site’s vast audience.

For the site’s typography, Journey Group chose our Verlag and Chronicle webfonts. Instead of merely styling the site’s headlines, they implemented webfonts for all of the site’s type, using Verlag for both headlines and annotations, and Chronicle ScreenSmart for text. Using a ScreenSmart font ensured that the site’s text would maintain its visual integrity at even the smallest sizes, so that all of the site’s readers are presented with crisp, legible type.

“I’ve always admired Verlag for its modernist swagger,” said Senior Designer Seth Nickerson. “My feeling was that it could carry a page when needed, but also be objective enough to live comfortably with disparate elements, without looking out of place. Chronicle ScreenSmart seemed the obvious choice to pair with it: it has a crispness that matches Verlag, and just seemed to invite long-form reading when we looked at it in the design, which is paramount.”

The site’s typographic sophistication goes far beyond its palette. CSS transforms and subtle animations play a gentle but effective role in bringing the type to life, and the site is filled with gracious nods to philately (including our favorite, the perforated edge in the main nav.)

We’re proud to feature Journey Group’s work for the USPS as our first profile of a website using Cloud.typography. When we return, we’ll introduce you to a site that uses meticulous type and illustrations to strike the right tone for an international company. In the meantime, if you’ve made something special that uses Cloud.typography, let us know: we’re on Twitter at @HoeflerCo. —NW

Powers of 41

Ours isn’t a government that holds designers in especially high esteem; a glance at the back of the $20 bill says as much. So it was with both delight and surprise that I learned this morning that the U. S. Postal Service is scheduled to roll out this set of stamps next summer, honoring the great contributions of Charles and Ray Eames.

Our entire profession owes thanks to USPS designer Derry Noyes, not only for raising the public profile of design with this marvelous project, but for answering its unique design problems so expertly. The Eames Office worked in two, three, and four dimensions, and to meet the challenge of representing their body of work so concisely — at the size of a postage stamp (a rare, non-metaphorical use of the phrase) — takes tact and aplomb of Eamesian proportions. —JH

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