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Typeface Review

Founders Grotesk Text

Reviewed by Christian Palino on March 11, 2014

Aria di rivoluzione — those were the words that first made me swoon. Those shoulders! That ‘a’! Tight apertures! As I turned the pages of Il Magazine (filled with the skillful typography of Francesco Franchi), I fell in love.

Founders Grotesk is one of those faces that simul­taneously seems like it has always existed and has never been seen before. It has become hard to expect anything less from Kris Sowersby, who turns out to be The Blues Brothers of revivals — resurrecting entire movements to create something new and unique. Sowersby’s approach to Founders Grotesk, initially inspired by a 1912 Miller & Richard specimen, involved careful curation of various century-old grots. Originally designed for display usage with tight letter spacing, when the typeface was first put to work at text sizes in The Weekend Herald, and ultimately in Il Magazine, Sowersby found that it did not hold up well. Fortunately for us, this led him to design Founders Grotesk Text.

What is exceptional and evident in the Text is that it is not merely a redrawing/respacing for improved readability at smaller sizes, but its often quirkier letterforms help translate the chari­sma of the big, beautiful display weights into text — all without feeling overly precious or distracting. Bellissima!

Christian Palino is a designer and educator living in San Francisco. He is currently the Director of Design at OpenTable and teaches Interaction Design at CCA. He previously worked for IDEO and Adaptive Path.

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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.

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