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Commentary

Hattenbach’s Rhino is Loose

Typographica on September 14, 2004

I had the pleasure of working in an office with Stockholm designer Stefan Hattenbach this year. Stefan practically bubbles over with a love for typography. His walls are full of specimen books and his head full of font ideas — some of which have manifest themselves in over 35 typeface designs since ’97. Many of these fonts reside at his three fine vendors, but Stefan finally has a single showcase for all his work at his new personal foundry site: MAC Rhino Fonts.


Stefan gave me the honor of designing some of the online showings, which he generously offers in printable PDF downloads as well — a fine example for all small foundries. I only wish (and we’ve already had a friendly tussle over this one) he would have presented the fonts in a frameless site so you can see the specimens in their full splendor. Let us know what you think.

In any case, the typefaces speak for themselves, no matter how they’re presented. My favorites are Lunda Modern and Sophisto. I’ve also had an enduring soft spot for the quirky western Oxtail. In the midst of setting the Oxtail poster, I discovered when it’s set tight, the tails can act as connectors for a pseudo-script (see “our america”). Stefan’s typefaces are full of these little unexpected nuggets. I like to think the relative isolation of Sweden offers him a unique perspective on letter design. So go buy some MRF fonts, now! [at PSY/OPS]  [at Veer]  [at Fountain]  [at FontShop]

See also: Classic Packaging

13 Comments

  1. Stephen,
    Thank’s a bunch for kind words on my site
    and my typefaces. Long live Typographica!

  2. Christopher says:

    Personally, I think my favorite is Hattrick. I just like it. I suppose it’s the dualist in me. :)

  3. Christopher,
    please, make something pretty with Hattrick and send it
    to me. I might put it up later on just to show examples
    of how it’s been used. That will happen with all the retail faces soon.

  4. Hrant says:

    Stefan, great stuff – and a nice concentrated explosion on the type scene with that site! Congrats. The current offering has some gems, but I’m even more excited by your “scheduled” designs! And you’re lucky to have Stephen’s skills helping out too.

    hhp

  5. Silus Grok says:

    Lovely fonts — all of them. Congratulations! And thank you, Stephan for the heads-up.

    A few critiques: it’s very hard to navigate from one font to the next… and if I were on my laptop and had to use the drop-down menus on my track pad, I would have stopped browsing after the first font.

    Please provide a way to just page through the fonts… the standard way being best: just give us back and forward arrows at the head and foot of each specimen that goes to the “previous” and “next” font in the queue.

    Also, I can’t for the life of me find a way to purchase these lovelies… am I just missing the link?

    Finally, I can’t tell for certain, but it seems that these wonderful fonts aren’t available as OpenType? Please tell me that’s just not so.

  6. jlt says:

    Stefan – as usual, I am humbled and very impressed by your industry. I have become a fan of your work recently and look forward to seeing new work as it is completed.

  7. Silius Grok,
    Actually it’s VERY easy to purchase any of the retail typefaces. Each page have a brief history to begin with, then there is a link to the foundry where the typeface is licensed. If anyone still feel a bit unceratin, there is a choice to download a pdf which show the family in detail.

    Regarding the the “font-list” I’ve set it up slightly different from most other foundries. I like to keep the personal style and therefor avoided the more common and starndard buttons and listings. I’ll keep the “sideway scrolling” in mind for future updates though.

  8. Thanks a bunch JLT, for nice comments on my typefaces. Words like these makes me feel really proud!

  9. Very nice fonts with some very original touches in the letter shapes.
    I second the criticism of the navigation though. It is very irritating to move the mouse across, miss by only a few pixels and have the menu disappear.

  10. Martin,
    I’m glad you like my typefaces. Too bad you don’t fancy the construction on the buttons. I would be interested to know what browser you’re using. I’ve tested the site with good result on both platforms and with several different browsers. As usual you get some minor differences in appearences, but technically the buttons have been no obsticale what so ever.

  11. Silus Grok says:

    I actually had the same problem as Martin — I’m using Safari.

  12. I had some problems wih the navigation being “sticky” in Navigator (it was reluctant to expand the menu each time, and took repeated mousings-over to get it to expand), but the beauty of the typefaces kept me going.

    Really gorgeous.

    I had no problems, however, with Safari.

  13. For the sake of experiment I tried it in Safari, Firefox, Netscape and Explorer on my dual 1 GHz Mac.
    The problem is in the timing of those submenus as they reveal themselves, as well as the fact of having to aim the mouse along the L shaped target. See Bruce Tognazzini’s “Fitt’s Laws article which makes the long-winded but convincing case that you shouldn’t design menus with such complicated targets – amongst other issues.
    So in effect what happens is that not only is this L shape a fiddly route to navigate with a cursor, but that the target menu doesn’t reveal itself as fast as my hand and eye anticipate where the next menu item is going to appear.
    And no matter how fast you animate this you will have the Fitt’s law working against you. Of course – some of these heirarchical menus are designed better than others – with more forgiving target areas, and better timing so that you can overshoot, but correct yourself before the “mistake” is made. With a web page though you don’t have the luxury of, say, being able to hold down a mouse click and then navigate down and along, because the click either opens a link, or, as in the case of those menu headers of yours, the click doesn’t open the menu; it’s a mouse-over, which is nowhere near as forgiving – or useful.

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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.

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