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Typeface Review

Daphne Script

Reviewed by Yves Peters on March 11, 2014

Usually when I choose a typeface for Typographica’s annual I have a clear idea of what to write, of which story I want to tell. This time, however, I decided on a whim to trust my gut feeling and choose a release that elicited an immediate and visceral reaction when I first saw it.

Originally I had no clear idea why I selected Daphne Script, other than it brought back memories of my fondness for Vivaldi, one of the faces from my student years which I now love to hate — or hate to love, de­pend­ing on the mood of the moment. This made for an interesting challenge, as I had to find out on the job what caused this love at first sight.

Daphne Script is based on Georg Salden’s Daphne. Designed almost half a century ago, this amazing hybrid is situated somewhere between a slanted display sans and a script. Daphne Script reprises the original Daphne’s squareness very subtly in its surpri­singly superelliptic frame, marrying it to a generous x-height, squat yet refined capitals, curv­aceous swashes, and a lovely set of alternates.

Yet there is much more to this design; its controlled elegance is deceiving. Salden rationalizes the gestural quality of his handwriting without neutering it. In a veritable tour de force, he manages to retain its original humanity, its warmth and sensuality. The tension in Daphne Script is almost palpable. It feels as if — like a playful, mischievous lover — Salden indefin­itely keeps the design on the edge. Daphne Script’s characters can barely be restrained, as if the letter­forms are bursting with vigor, leaning into their immaculate vectors and struggling to free themselves — calligraphic magmas trying to erupt from their typographic encasing, ready to explode all over the page with swooping curves and exuberant swashes. This precarious equilibrium, this preorgasmic tension, creates an incredible energy that is difficult to ignore.

Yves Peters is a [typo]graphic designer, drummer with Rosa Luxe*, Grand Theft, Troubleman, and The Secret Reggae Band, and father of three. He writes about type and typography for The FontFeed and Unzipped, his blog for FontShop Benelux. His talent for being able to identify most typefaces on sight is utterly useless in daily life.

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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.

Set in Bureau Grot by Font Bureau, Nocturno Display by Nikola Djurek, Fern (unreleased) by David Jonathan Ross, and JAF Bernini Sans by Tim Ahrens.

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