Typeface Review

FS Brabo

Reviewed by Mariko Takagi on May 9, 2016

“If you remember the shape of your spoon at lunch, it has to be the wrong shape. The spoon and the letter are tools; one to take food from the bowl, the other to take information off the page.” — Adrian Frutiger

Frutiger’s words come to my mind as I review Fernando Mello’s FS Brabo.

Being an author and the designer of my own books, I feel that creating a layout turns my research, thoughts, and writing into a visible form. It is the summing up of each project. For me, the layout phase starts with selecting a suitable typeface. The ideal typeface for my application needs to support the content, and should assist the reader in taking “information off the page” without feeling distracted. At the same time, I love to work with details, giving my audience something to discover.

Mello studied historic metal typefaces archived at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, and the tradition of the Garalde style becomes apparent when applying FS Brabo in running text. Set in a small size, the typeface appears calm and balanced. It gently supports the continuous flow of the reading eye.

FS Brabo is a small family, with only four weights. To me, this is a positive invitation that enables me to stay focused in my design. Mello does offer a set of ligatures, swashes, and other ornamentals; and this set of glyphs — especially rich for the italics — provides a graphic designer with several options. It is my freedom to decide, to choose: perhaps the slanted capitals to set text in italics, or the flamboyant capitals for an italicized subhead, or maybe letters with eccentric endings for a playful sensibility.

FS Brabo is truly like a thoughtfully designed spoon that enhances the gusto of a creation.

Mariko Takagi is a German-Japanese typographer, author, designer of books, and an assistant professor based in Hong Kong.

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