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Review Feature

Our Favorite Typefaces of 2013

Stephen Coles on March 11, 2014

favorite fonts of 2013This year marks another step in the typographic diversi­fi­cation we observed in our previous annual. The global spread of independent font makers and the variety of new ideas in type design continues unabated.

As evidence of that diversity, the 54 typefaces selected from 2013 were created by designers from at least 21 countries, including:

  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Lebanon
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

This new phase of globalization and democratization of the font market began in earnest about a decade ago, propelled by newly accessible digital tools, online commerce, and post-graduate education in type design. It is a sea change. For centuries, places like Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Lebanon, and New Zealand were vastly under­repre­sent­ed in a type design community that was dominated by western Europe and North America. (And this only goes for Latin-based type. The burg­eon­ing production of fonts in other scripts tells another fascinating story.) We will have much more detail about these changes in an upcoming report by Ruxandra Duru on the current state of typefounding around the world.

The diversity of the contributors to our annual is also invig­orating. This year’s writers are almost as international as the typefaces they cover. More importantly, they represent a variety of perspectives from both sides of font making and using. Type designers, print and web designers, educators, writers, historians — we can all learn from the manifold ways that people from such divergent backgrounds perceive a typeface.

In Review

Now in its eighth edition, “Our Favorite Typefaces” continues to present a good overview of the most interesting new fonts on the market. It is, however, by no means comprehensive. The list of other notable releases hints at how many other typefaces deserve attention, and custom type commissioned by clients for proprie­tary use is often overlooked. (This growing segment of the trade deserves its own feature.) As a reminder, this annual is not a compe­tition in which submitted entries are awarded by an official jury. (That format has its own drawbacks, but I think it’s still a valid one.) Instead, I invite people whose opinion I respect to write about a release from the past year that excited them. This means that the reviews are not necessarily rigorous critiques — although many contributors do offer a fairly in-depth analysis. Their opinions are mainly positive because that’s the point of the call.

This caveat acknowledges the fact that, while the “Favorites” feature will always have its own kind of value, there is also a very real need for true type reviews — in the proper sense of the term, in which type (both good and bad) is tested and appraised. With the help of some able cohorts, I intend to address that deficit soon via a new venture. Subscribe, follow, stay tuned.

“Our Favorite Typefaces of 2013” was produced with generous assistance from Chris Hamamoto, Caren Litherland, Tamye Riggs, Laura Serra, and Tânia Raposo. Huge thanks also go to the contributing writers, and to the type designers and foundries who provided samples and imagery.

This feature coincides with a Typographica font palette refresh, including Sutro Deluxe by Jim Parkinson for the nameplate, Nocturno Display by Nikola Djurek for headlines and pullquotes, and Fern (unreleased) by David Jonathan Ross of Font Bureau for text. We continue to use the durable JAF Bernini Sans by Tim Ahrens for all the small stuff. The “Type of 2013” graphic features FF Quixo (and a color I can only describe as “Sherman Peachorange”, nabbed from a little site called Fonts In Use).

9 Comments

  1. Hrant says:

    I thought there would be fewer selections this year! So glad that’s not the case — there’s a lot to celebrate, and learn from.

    Most of all though I’m happy you waited for the year to actually finish, thus including the December babies in the family.

  2. Hrant, there actually were fewer selections this year — but only six fewer.

  3. What a year in Type Design. I’m a little disheartened that Tribunal didn’t make the main list though. It’s a wonderfully functional workhorse with a very unique story!

  4. Hrant says:

    So last year there were at most 1.5 libre fonts among the 50-something favorites. How many are there this year? (BTW this happens to be pertinent to a conference talk proposal I’m working on…)

  5. There are two libre families among the selections: Fira Sans and Clear Sans. Also Salomé, which is not libre but the Regular is free with a tweet or Facebook post.

  6. Paul Shaw says:

    Just a reminder that the list is one of favorite typefaces not of the best typefaces of the past year. For instance I chose Carlyle Quaint only because it was so unusual. I would have been just as content to have chosen several others, including some that are on Stephen’s honorable mention list, which are better in the sense that they are far more useful.

  7. […] Have you seen Typographica’s favorite typefaces of 2013? We have a new FontList with all the fonts chosen that are available at FontShop! You can also […]

  8. Charbel says:

    Lebanese Typographers cater to the whole Arab world. A small country with much to offer to such a niche.

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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 Eben Sorkin
Noe Display fonts specimen

Noe Display

Selected by Caren Litherland
Nocturno specimen

Nocturno

Selected by Chris Hamamoto
Ladislav fonts specimen

Ladislav

Selected by Frank Grießhammer
Pufff fonts specimen

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Mauritius-fonts-specimen

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Odesta fonts specimen

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Portrait fonts specimen

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Erotica fonts specimen

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HWT Tuscan Extended fonts specimen

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Carlyle Quaint fonts specimen

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MVB Solitaire fonts specimen

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FF Quixo fonts specimen

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Domaine fonts specimen

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Lowercase styles, Light and Bold.

TXT101

Selected by Jan Middendorp
Line fonts specimen

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Selected by Conor Mangat
Apeloig Type Library fonts specimen

Apeloig Type Library

Selected by Tânia Raposo
Audree fonts specimen

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Selected by Tamye Riggs
HWT Gothic Round fonts specimen

HWT Gothic Round

Selected by Marian Bantjes
Maestrale fonts specimen

Maestrale

Selected by Florian Hardwig
Eskorte fonts specimen

Eskorte

Selected by Mark Simonson
Dark Angel fonts specimen

Dark Angel

Selected by Michael Surtees
clear

Clear Sans

Selected by Ivo Gabrowitsch
Duplicate fonts

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Selected by Mark Simonson
Cadogan fonts specimen

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Selected by Benjamin Shaykin
Circular fonts specimen

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Selected by Claus Eggers Sørensen
Lava-fonts-specimen

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Selected by Marian Bantjes
Diversa-fonts-specimen

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Selected by Ellen Lupton
Program fonts sample

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Selected by Yves Peters
Daphne Script fonts specimen

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Selected by Robb Ogle
Brooklyn-fonts-specimen

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Selected by Indra Kupferschmid
Sarre fonts specimen

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Selected by Mark Jamra and Hrant Papazian
Arek fonts specimen

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Selected by Ksenya Samarskaya
Huronia fonts specimen

Huronia

Selected by Christoph Koeberlin
Lumin fonts specimen

Lumin

Selected by Matthew Butterick
fira-1

Fira Sans

Selected by Colin M. Ford
Balto-fonts-sample

Balto

Selected by Maurice Meilleur
Remo 1/4

Remo

Selected by Patric King
Programme fonts specimen

Programme

Selected by Thomas Phinney
Charcuterie-fonts-sample

Charcuterie

Selected by Robin Rendle
Brandon Text fonts specimen

Brandon Text

Selected by Grant Hutchinson
Noodge fonts specimen

Noodge

Selected by Dan Reynolds
Brevier Viennese fonts specimen

Brevier Viennese

Selected by Christian Palino
Founders Grotesk Text fonts specimen

Founders Grotesk Text

Selected by Nick Shinn
Baton fonts specimen

Baton

Selected by Gerry Leonidas
Capita fonts specimen

Capita

Selected by Carolina de Bartolo
Rolling Pen fonts specimen

Rolling Pen

Selected by Tim Brown
FF Dora fonts specimen

FF Dora

Selected by Jan Middendorp
Karol fonts specimen

Karol

Selected by Shelley Gruendler
Braxton fonts specimen

Braxton

Selected by Dan Mall
Salome-fonts-specimen

Salomé

Selected by Stephen Coles
2013 notable fonts asterisk

Other Notable Font Releases of 2013

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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