Most sighted people see many typefaces on an hourly basis. If you are a regular reader of type-related stories, you probably also look at typefaces daily and stare at their curves. And you probably use several typefaces in any given week. As a regular reader of Typographica, as you go through each review from this 2016 collection, you already feel like all of the typefaces are melting into one. This feeling you have is Conglomerate.
First came the name, then came the design concept of this personal venture. Greg Shutters didn’t know which direction the typeface should take, so he set the drafts on the back burner for a few years. And then Type@Cooper came. Or rather, Shutters came to Type@Cooper, and an intense dialogue began. The program granted him an ideal setting for experimentation. This opens up a discussion about the limits and borders one needs in order to experiment freely. Shutters could have continued to experiment in the wild, but he didn’t. Under his instructors’ eyes, he felt he could make this risky design come together.
Throughout the process, Shutters — not unlike other type designers — knew he would tweak and modify. Those tweaks and modifications quickly became profound changes. The typeface shifted from a sans to an apparent serif, marked by the humble top notches. Optima, Melior, and Lydian are a few noteworthy sources of well-balanced inspirations.
The hybrid characteristics of these typefaces remain consistent across weights. When you sign up for this sans+serif structure, it’s best if traces from both models remain noticeable, regardless of the weight.
Conglomerate is full of details we type designers love; they make it tempting to use the face for display purposes. Yet Conglomerate’s strength lies in small sizes, where the wide texture helps tiny details sparkle.
True to its name, Conglomerate encompasses several type styles. In a way, it contains a foundry’s entire library in one typeface. It’s defined as a serif and a sans, square and rounded. Conglomerate chooses to enjoy it all, “both all and none of these things”. This is not a typeface for lazy designers. Whoever dares to select Conglomerate will have to make smart choices on the how and the where. How the type will be perceived is now up to them. Shutters’ job is done.
Liron Lavi Turkenich is a Typeface designer and researcher, currently based in Israel. She studied at Shenkar College of Design in Tel Aviv (B.Des inVisual Communications) and the University of Reading (MA in Typeface Design). Turkenich finds great interest in multilingual typeface design and specializes in Hebrew and Amharic.