From Geometrics to Grotesques

My Top 5 Typefaces

Typography is omnipresent in our everyday lives, especially now in the digital age. With the advent of desktop publishing and system fonts, what used to accessible only to highly skilled professionals has been democratized to the masses.

Gone are the days of hot metal type foundries and photo typesetting; today is a revolutionized period where anyone can create their own typeface with minimal tools. The floodgates have opened and the market has been saturated with tens of thousands of fonts.

As a designer, it can be daunting wading through the vast sea of fonts, trying to choose the right one for your next project. Here are five typefaces in my current rotation that I consider my “go-to’s.”

1. Futura

There’s no denying it—geometric typefaces are hot right now. Geometric typefaces, especially Futura, have maintained consistent popularity throughout the years, but there’s been renewed interest in them recently. From Spotify to Airbnb, many companies are embracing geometric forms.

Perhaps it’s the prevalence of neutral grotesques such as Helvetica that spurred a reactionary movement against it. Their relative exclusivity could be a factor as well—there’s a limited number of free geometric fonts, and there are no equals currently on Google Fonts.

When choosing a geometric typeface, Futura will always be my top pick. With a low stroke contrast, perfectly circular “o’s” and classic Roman capital proportions, Futura has a timeless appeal that will ensure its relevancy in the years to come.

2. DIN

Saying I love DIN would be a gross understatement. I’ve been obsessed with typefaces born out of functionality, such as monospaced fonts that were designed to work within the constraints of the typewriter. Developed in Germany mainly for technical uses such as road signs, DIN was drawn by an engineer with set squares, T-squares and protractors—tools that create perfect geometric forms.

Although it was updated and refined in 1995 by Albert Jan-Pool, DIN still lacks the many nuances common to traditional typeface design. But that’s what makes DIN so striking–and primitive to the more discerning typographer. Its technical qualities make DIN useful for design work that requires clarity and precision as a visual statement.

3. Brandon Grotesque

Brandon Grotesque may be on the verge of overused at this point, but it’s still unique enough to retain relevancy. It offers a refined functionality balanced with unique softness imparted by its rounded corners. A low x-height evokes a strong sense of restraint and elegance.

Whenever a project calls for any of these qualities, I’ll usually turn to Brandon Grotesque. It’s also a versatile typeface, excelling at large sizes in both on-screen and print applications. The Brandon Text variant is a great performer at smaller sizes for running copy and captions.

4. Sentinel

This font is a true workhorse–bold in headlines, subheads and readable in long running copy. It has heft, without being as heavy as Clarendon, and sturdiness without being as rigid as Rockwell. Sentinel is a slab-serif at its finest.

As with all faces from Hoefler & Co., Sentinel is packed with features that allow it to handle even the most complex of typesetting tasks. I’ll often find myself using Sentinel for work that requires punchy, attention-grabbing headlines and large, multi-page documents that require a typeface with versatility and readability.

5. Klavika

Klavika is a beautiful marriage of the technical and the humanist. Its distinctive features are endless; every time I use this font, I’ll discover new quirks. Just recently I noticed that the arms of the lowercase “k” come to a point and sit unattached to the stem.

The lower case “g” is notable as well. I’ve always had an affinity towards double storey “g’s,” and Klavika’s is one of my favourites. It features an opened loop with softened angles and an ear that comes to a gentle taper.

With a wide character set and an extensive numeral set consisting of tabular, lining, small-cap and old-style variants, Klavika is a flexible typeface that is appropriate for a wide variety of media.