Some typefaces are distinguished by a sense of newness and surprise — the unexpected influence, the unfamiliar combination of disparate historical models. Others surprise you with their very regularity — their sense of rightness, of always having been there. They are so of the current moment that they seem classic and timeless.
Laurenz Brunner’s designs for Lineto fall into this second category. His debut release, Akkurat (2004) — a contemporary take on the Swiss sans serif — was one of Lineto’s first serious text families and perhaps its largest success to date.
With LL Circular, his second release for Lineto, Brunner has done it again — this time reworking the geometric sans, drawing from Futura, Neuzeit Grotesk, and other 20th-century models to create something unmistakably current.
Circular doesn’t draw attention to itself. From its earliest appearances in The Most Beautiful Swiss Books series of 2007–09 (designed by Brunner himself while the typeface was under development), to its recent uses in Conditional Design: Workbook, Unit Edition’s FHK Henrion monograph, and the pages of the New York Times Magazine, Circular is serious, timeless, and neutral.
It has a pleasing, even color, substantial in even its lightest weight. A handful of alternate glyphs (including an ‘r’ constructed of only a line and a dot — a nod to Renner’s experimental letterforms) and a set of charming roman numerals allow for more atypical settings. But even without these alternates, Circular is geometric without being cold. It is anonymous in the best way possible.
But oh, the lowercase ‘t’! I adore the lowercase ‘t’. The intersection of stem and crossbar is perfectly rounded, suggesting the slightest hint of Clarendon or Century. And it is this subtle softness that gives the typeface away. It is Circular’s defining character, and my favorite glyph of 2013.