There are many reasons to love a typeface, but the hardest one to talk about, at least for me, is the purely aesthetic level. It feels somehow more respectable to admire a typeface first and foremost from an intellectual angle, being impressed by a big, clever concept or years of research. Justifying liking a typeface by saying “I just really like the way it looks” is for people who don’t know what they’re looking at or talking about, isn’t it?
I shouldn’t be such a snob. Cobalte appeals to my eyes first and my brain second. I love its warmth. I love the shapes. No detail feels out of place. Its texture is deeply satisfying on a gut, aesthetic level. The loose connection to Adrian Frutiger’s interesting but difficult-to-use Icone also appeals to me, and helps me clarify what I like so much about Cobalte. Icone is a typeface I respect as a type designer, whereas Cobalte is a typeface I enjoy as a reader. Icone appears to be the product of a strict set of rules governing its construction, whereas Cobalte looks effortless, organic, and natural. This, of course, is a complicated way of saying: I just really like the way it looks.
Christian Schwartz is a type designer, typography consultant, and co-founder of Commercial Type in New York City. He was awarded the prestigious Prix Charles Peignot in 2007 and his work has been selected many times as Typographica Favorites.