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Our Favorite Typefaces of 2008

Typographica on April 16, 2009

Type of 2008It’s said that when launching a new ship, it’s bad luck if the ceremonial bottle of champagne doesn’t break. Well, if the ship in question is Typographica’s long-awaited redesign, then there is no need to worry, because this list — the site’s fifth annual accounting of the best in new typeface design — represents the proverbial bottle being blasted into oblivion, showering all onlookers with a selection of amazing typefaces (cue fireworks).

Sensationalism aside, it’s significant that the ever-increasing quality in type design these days — dubbed by some as the new “golden age” of type — has caused this year’s list to supersede previous lists in many ways. For example, the new larger format of the site accommodates larger type specimens, appropriately showing more of each typeface’s beautiful features. It’s also worth noting that the list presents more selections than in years past — a testament to the fact that there are simply more quality typefaces being produced, and at a faster rate than before (many of which we were sad to leave out). Finally, in accordance with the increased number of worthy choices, more contributors have offered their opinion than ever before. From type educators to expert users of type, type critics, type historians, type technicians, and type designers themselves, a wide range of relevant perspectives are presented for consideration.

Judging by this year’s list, it is probably safe to say that OpenType technology, 13 years after its debut, has officially arrived. Nearly all type producers have fully embraced the technology and, accordingly, every one of the typefaces in this year’s list is provided in the revolutionary font format — sometimes exclusively so.

Stylistically, this year’s selections run the typographic gamut: slab serif, typewriter, blackletter, stencil, brush script, geometric sans … and some that are difficult to neatly classify. Some represent contemporary innovations in editorial style, while others look back to pre-typographic history for inspiration. With such a wide range of examples, making any generalizations about the list is tricky. What can be said, though, is that each selection has proved itself enough to be chosen as an exemplary model of what happened in the world of type design last year.

With that in mind, I would like to be the first to congratulate and thank all the designers whose work is featured, as well as Stephen Coles and Chris Hamamoto for all their hard work organizing the list and bestowing this site with the redesign it deserved.

It’s an honor to present Typographica’s Favorite Typefaces of 2008!

Nick Sherman

Typefaces used in Type of 2008 logo: FF Pitu and Dessau

26 Comments

  1. Sye says:

    nice work everyone! thanks!

  2. Phil Nelson says:

    There goes my day. Thanks.

  3. Jongseong Park says:

    This list includes so many faces I’ve come to think of as classics already that I can’t quite believe that they were only released last year. Whenever I hear someone declare that we are now experiencing a golden age, I’m inclined to call out recency bias. But in this case, I might have to reconsider. It’s certainly an exciting period to be living in for type enthusiasts.

  4. Diego says:

    I love this annual selection. Thanks!

  5. Some of these fonts are really beautiful. I know a lot of great work went into all these so congrats to all who made the list!

  6. These are some beautiful fonts. It would be really cool to know when of these are able to be licensed for use in CSS3 as web fonts.

  7. Congratulations on the relaunch! I, too, devoured this fantastic feature after eagerly awaiting its release. It was far more than what I hoped for.

    I do have one request, however. It always irritates me to read a type review that discusses a particular character only to find that the available type specimens or images do not feature it. As I read these type reviews, the majority did include images of the particular glyphs discussed, but a number of reviews did not. I find this makes for a much less accessible and enjoyable experience, so my request is for every review to include images that illustrate each point made: If someone discusses an odd serif or beautiful ligature, I want to see it.

    Of course, the forty specimens of this collection present such a volume that this idea might be impractible, but I would hope that smaller review features could include my suggestion.

  8. Stephen Coles says:

    A valid request, Reed. Specimens for these annual reviews are difficult to plan for logistically, given the volume of reviews and multiple writers with specimens coming from multiple sources. We will be adding images to these reviews in the coming days, so come on back and have a look. That said, considering the content is something I will shoot for in the imagery of future reviews.

  9. rreibstein says:

    Thanks for the quick and exciting response, Stephen. On a positive note, I was thrilled to see Mokka getting an “ae” image when the reviewer spent a paragraph on it; I don’t think I can recall a review focusing on a particular letter pair like this, let alone having an illustration of their relationship.

  10. When writing about planting design I always caution that spatial function precedes plant material selection. This is logical, really, since plant selection is really only part of an inclusive design.

    How is typography different? Is page layout, and content, paramount? And if so, what is the relevance of ‘favorite’ typefaces?

    Is it not the case that ALL typefaces are equal in some sense? That you conceptualize your design and then you find a typeface that best moves forward your page vision?

    Do I have ‘favorite’ plants? Not really. They are simply tools, a part of a larger and surely more refined puzzle than implied by a list of favorites.

  11. spayced says:

    These are some great fonts. My favorite is Stag, which just screams New York Times. FF Trixie HD is a great ‘spy’ font, and Lakeside seems like it jumped straight out of the 50’s.

  12. Mark Rogan says:

    There goes my credit card balance!
    Really inspiring stuff. I wish I could afford to buy them all right now.

    Sometimes, I think my head is so big because it is so full of fonts.

  13. Foo says:

    40 great typefaces. And the best part is: you had to post GIF images of them because not a single one can be used in a web page.

  14. Not normally a fan of scripty fonts, but Calgary Script look really balanced. Thats going to have to be used at some point whether the client agrees or not…

    Memoir look quite sweet as well. I can see that on some nice raspberry jam

  15. Neven Udovicic says:

    Congrats to Nikola Djurek! 3 of his typefaces are in top40! + more in ‘honorable mentions’…

  16. Shiskababoo says:

    Maybe it’s just a personal preference but the past Typographic annual selections have appealed to me far more. This year there are a few stunning faces, but the rest are quite passable.

  17. rory says:

    Tasty selection of types.
    Calgary Script and Memoir are a lovely set of fonts, really flow nice. Given me some inspiration for my own fonts, thanks.

  18. A fantastic selection! We are in a golden age indeed. My personal favorites are Brioni, Marlene, and ITC Franklin.

  19. John says:

    It would be great if this set was offered as a pack

  20. Mauro says:

    Hey nice work! what that classic font used on the 2 in the 2008?

  21. Florian says:

    Mauro: That’s FF Pitu Bold (it’s mentioned at the end of the article).

  22. Gabriele says:

    Now, if only i could smell the almost heavy smell of well worn books wih those beautiful fonts, it would be perfect.

  23. Susan says:

    Great comment, Michael Spencer. Your process echoes my own. I will say that it is good to have a list like this so I can broaden my arsenal of tools on occasion. Who knows if I’ll work on a project for which I’ll need one of these, but its great for me to know they’re out there.

    As for “favorites” I think it goes more toward that thing we never really discuss in design: style. Even though we are supposedly selflessly seeking the best possible solutions to every design challenge, we can’t help but have certain go-to techniques that we know will always work in certain circumstances, thus if you look at a designers’ body of work, there are normally some similarities from project to project.

  24. Once again one of the best overviews of great typography last year.

    I think everyone here can only be glad about (almost) all foundries embracing OpenType.

  25. WebProject says:

    I love this annual selection. Thanks!

  26. A fantastic selection! We are in a golden age indeed. My personal favorites are Brioni, Marlene, and ITC Franklin.

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Comments at Typographica are moderated and copyedited, just like a “Letter to the Editor” in a newspaper. Abusive or off-topic comments will not be published. Compliments are appreciated, but will not be published unless they add to the conversation. Thank you!

Selected by Aegir Hallmundur
Marlene type specimen

Marlene

Selected by David John Earls
Archer type specimen

Archer

Selected by Nick Sherman
Glosa type specimen

Glosa

Selected by Adam Twardoch
Baskerville 10 type specimen

Baskerville 10

Selected by Adam Twardoch
Studio Lettering type specimen

Studio Lettering

Selected by Christian Palino
Compendium type specimen

Compendium

Selected by Christian Palino
Stag type specimen

Stag

Selected by Christian Palino
Carmen type specimen

Carmen

Selected by Hrant Papazian
FF Pitu type specimen

FF Pitu

Selected by Ellen Lupton
History in use by Pentagram for "Everybody Dance Now" exhibition at AIGA in NY

History

Selected by Jean François Porchez
Zanzibar specimen

Filmotype Zanzibar

Selected by Jean François Porchez
Vista Slab specimen

Vista Slab

Selected by William Berkson
Rocky specimen

Rocky

Selected by Jan Middendorp
Dolce and Dyna specimen

Dolce & Dyna

Selected by Caren Litherland
Brioni type specimen

Brioni

Selected by Karsten Luecke
Birra Stout specimen

Birra Stout

Selected by Yves Peters
FP Head Pro specimen

FP Head

Selected by Chris Hamamoto
Zocalo

Zócalo

Selected by Joshua Lurie-Terrell
Mary Read typeface specimen

Mary Read

Selected by Dyana Weissman
Lakeside specimen

Lakeside

Selected by Duncan Forbes
Hardy typeface specimen

Hardys

Selected by Paul Shaw
Typonine Stencil fonts

Typonine Stencil

Selected by Gary Munch
Benton Modern Display typeface specimen

Benton Modern Display

Selected by Michael Surtees
Mokka typeface specimen

Mokka

Selected by Cameron Moll
Calgary typeface specimen

Calgary Script

Selected by Ivo Gabrowitsch
Expo Serif typeface specimen

Expo Serif

Selected by Claudio Piccinini
Eurostile Next typeface specimen

Eurostile Next

Selected by Ricardo Cordoba
Bree typeface specimen

Bree

Selected by Carolina de Bartolo
ITC Franklin typeface specimen

ITC Franklin

Selected by John Butler
Arlt typeface specimen

Arlt

Selected by Cheshire Isaacs
Memoir specimen

Memoir

Selected by Eben Sorkin
Marat typeface specimen

Marat

Selected by John Butler
Moyenage typeface specimen

Moyenage

Selected by Jürgen Siebert
Dessau typeface specimen

Dessau

Selected by John Downer
Orbe typeface specimen

Orbe

Selected by Mark Simonson
Scotch Modern / Figgins Sans Suite fonts

Modern Suite

Selected by John Boardley
Newzald specimen

Newzald

Selected by Dan Reynolds
Givry

Givry

Selected by Ben Kiel
FF Trixie

FF Trixie HD

Selected by Florian Hardwig
Comenia

Comenia

Selected by Typographica
2008 Honorable Mentions

Other Notable Font Releases of 2008

Colophon

Typographica is a review of typefaces and type books, with occasional commentary on fonts and typographic design. Edited by Stephen Coles and designed by Chris Hamamoto. Founded in 2002 by Joshua Lurie-Terrell. Relaunched in 2009 by Coles and Hamamoto.

Set in Bureau Grot by Font Bureau, Nocturno Display by Nikola Djurek, Fern (unreleased) by David Jonathan Ross, and JAF Bernini Sans by Tim Ahrens.

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