Last year, after 14 years of work, Carl Crossgrove finally released his magnum opus. A time well-spent, that’s for sure. Beorcana has what it takes to become a classic.
The typeface has no serifs, yet it’s the opposite of a grotesque. It exhibits the rhythmic contrast and the humanist proportions of a renaissance roman.
Its letters please with vividly dancing forms in every detail. However, this obvious calligraphic derivation never seems inappropriately fancy — even the spruce swash italics are down-to-earth in a convenient way. The Thin isn’t anemic and the Ultra isn’t heavy-handed – Crossgrove really knows his stuff. Beorcana looks refreshing – and at the same time so self-evident and familiar as it had always been around.
While these days Zapf’s Optima (the somewhat moldy godfather of this genre) can be seen almost merely in drugstores and on cosmetics packaging, Beorcana’s field of application is a lot wider, featuring seven weights for display sizes, five for text use, and another two for tiny captioning (each of them accompanied by their corresponding italics). The Beorcana clan provides a versatile system, and particularly meets the demands of a book workhorse.
Those who claim that longer reading text can’t do without serifs haven’t discovered Beorcana yet. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of it, both as a designer and a reader, and can hardly imagine an overuse. Beorcana is here to stay!
Florian Hardwig is a typographer by trade and hunter-gatherer of letterforms by obsession. With his Berlin-based studio he shapes books, websites and other publications. Florian writes about type and typography and co-edits Fonts In Use.