So why is Capitolium, a design from 1998, on this year’s list? Well, Gerard Unger expanded his design in 2006 with cuts suited for newspapers, and in 2011 it was updated and released as Capitolium News 2 by Type Together, giving it a wider retail audience for the first time.
The updated fonts expand the character set to cover Central European languages and implemented a range of OpenType features. The design was a winning entry in the 2011 ATypI letter.2 competition, honoring the best type design of the past decade. Where Capitolium was inspired by ancient Roman inscriptions and the penmanship of Giovanni Francesco Cresci, Capitoloum News is an adaptation for newsprint featuring a larger x-height. By doing so, Unger re-appropriated his earlier design in a modern manifestation of le goût hollandois of which Unger is a leading contemporary voice.
Capitolium News manages to be very pragmatic while still speaking a beautiful design language full of flavor. Even a casual glance reveals it as clearly Unger and clearly usable – something that typeface designers have always aspired to, but few master as well as Unger. An interesting comparison is that to Ludwig Übele’s FF Tundra, which also features the large x-height and slightly condensed letterforms that characterizes the Dutch style. I feel these general letterform proportions suit screen reading very well. They allow more text to be displayed on a given screen, so that less user scrolling, pinching and zooming, and page-flicking gets in the way of reading.
With mobile devices moving towards pixel-dense screens, it’s time for publication designers to move away from the overly bland sans serifs, the overly wide serifs, and the stale revivals of the world. In today’s technological landscape, designs like Capitolium News and Tundra are very worthy of your consideration.