6 min read
6 Favourite Type Foundries
January 30th, 2022
Typography plays a huge role in what designer do. It is a key ingredient in all of the work we create and we are all super passionate about it.
When working on a project it is crucial that the right typefaces are chosen. This can be the difference between a project working great (where all information is displayed effortlessly across all channels and the viewer is given messages in the correct tone of voice) or failure (where the chosen typeface doesn’t work in the correct way and the viewer cannot read information or the information is displayed in the wrong tone of voice).
The process for finding the right typefaces can be a time consuming task which involves initially trying out a range of different typefaces before whittling them down to a chosen few that fit the bill. These are then discussed between the team before sharing the chosen option or options with the client. That way I can be sure that the chosen typefaces work in the best possible way and are relevant to the needs of the project before it is launched.
As I spend so much time looking at, and for typefaces I thought it would be good to share a list of 6 type foundries that are personal favourites of mine. Enjoy!
Colophon Foundry was started in 2009 by Anthony Sheret and Edd Harrington. The two of them met while studying at Brighton University and set up Colophon Foundry as a side line to their design agency The Entente.
Since their humble beginnings in Brighton they have expanded to sell original typefaces by a whole host of other type designers and now have offices in London and Los Angeles.
One project that stands out is their custom typeface for the paper company G . F Smith. The understated, crafted and British feel achieved by the typeface makes it the perfect tool to display G . F Smith’s extensive paper range and show its heritage.
Colophon have become hugely popular with designers due to their ability to create timeless and crafted typefaces that look and work great.
Grilli Type is a relatively new independent Swiss foundry. It was started up in 2009 by Noël Leu and Thierry Blancpain.
They offer a range of modern typefaces that manage to straddle the line of feeling neutral while still having a playful personality.
The typeface GT Walsheim has a warm and friendly feel due to its curves and large rounded dots. It was Inspired by the typography found on posters by Swiss designer Otto Baumberger. This is clearly seen in the features of the typeface such as the distinctive uppercase G.
Grilli Type have bags of personality and I can easily see why their popularity is growing fast amongst designers.
Hoefler & Co.
Hoefler & Co is a New York type foundry ran by Jonathan Hoefler. From 1999 to 2014 Hoefler worked with Tobias Frere-Jones under the name Hoefler & Frere-Jones until a dispute between the two of them led to them both going there separate ways.
They are responsible for some of the most popular typefaces in the world including the behemoth that is Gotham.
I first learnt about Hoefler & Frere-Jones after going to a talk by them when I was visiting New York during a university trip. They were speaking about Gotham in detail, about how the project came about (it was commissioned by GQ magazine) and also showing the photos of the New York signage that had inspired the creation of the typeface.
Frere-Jones did an amazing job in creating an adaptable type family that manages to look fresh while still feeling honest and authoritative.
Even if you have no interest in typography, chances are you will be familiar with Gotham as it can be seen pretty much everywhere including Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and on the cornerstone of the One World Trade Center in New York.
House Industries was founded in 1993 by Andy Cruz and Rich Roat. Their eclectic selection of display fonts has made them a staple on design courses.
Taking inspiration from the adverts and signage produced during the consumer boom of 1950s America, their typefaces have a distinct character and rhythm to them. This is something which I’m sure has been achieved through years of hard graft and drawing out many letterforms.
Although House Industries are mainly known for their playful display faces, Neutraface proves that these guys know a thing or two about Geometric Sans Serif faces too!
International Typeface Corporation ITC
The International Typeface Corporation was founded in New York in 1970 by Aaron Burns, Herb Lubalin and Edward Rondthaler. They were one of the first font providers to embrace digital technology and cleverly licensed their typefaces to manufacturers of phototypesetting equipment. This meant that their fonts were being offered to everyone who bought the machines which was pretty much every agency in the 70’s. They also licensed their typefaces to be used in film, publishing and to be sold with new hardware too, creating a new way of marketing typography that is still used today.
I first came across ITC when flicking through some type specimen books at college. At the time I used to use a photocopier to copy the pages from them and enlarge the letterforms so that I could then trace them onto layout paper to use in my design work.
The character, elegance and flowing hand drawn feel always drew me back to these typefaces.
Milieu Grotesque is a relatively new kid on the block in terms of type foundries. It was set up in 2010 by Timo Gaessner and Alexander Colby.
Since then this small Swiss outfit has become popular amongst designers due to their contemporary well crafted typefaces.
Maison Neue is a personal favourite. It has the neutral feel of a Swiss sans serif with an added friendliness. This is due to the open letterforms, high x height and added details like the teardrop shape found in the lowercase a.