Typeface Review


Reviewed by Sonja Knecht on May 9, 2016

A typeface with a firm tread, stable and strong. Here’s staring at you, kid. This is Macho.

What distinguishes men from boys? They have a clear and distinct way of approaching things. They have their goals in life, they are useful, and they want to make an impression. This is what Macho is about. This is what clichés are about, hell yes.

I’m sorry, but there was no way of getting out of this. The vibes and the radiance, the irresistible Adriano Celentano-like attraction (still kicking, by the way) of this masculine sexbomb of a typeface dominated my first impression. The name! The brisk pace! The rhythm (monospaced)! And, sorry again, but also those well-chosen (Spanish) dummy texts leave no doubt about the concept: ¿Porqué no escuchas? (Why don’t you listen?) / Sí, te entiendo (Yes, I understand you) / Ya no te quiero (I don’t like you anymore) / Ni lo pienses (Don’t even think about it); they work as a perfect basic vocabulary model kit for the original macho. Okay, there is also this wistful, romantic nuance, via Yo he visto el mar (I have seen the sea).

Macho was designed for the MAN (!!!), Museo d’Arte Provincia di Nuoro (as art directed by Sabina Era). It is based on 20th-century typesetting systems like Olivetti’s Margherita. The company started to make typewriters in 1908. Founder Camillo Olivetti’s son Adriano (!!!) developed a new typewriter design, the M-40, which won wide acceptance in the 1930s. It’s not obvious right away, but Macho is a modular system. Each module “is 7.5% of the body size (75 upm units) and every letter width is up to 20 modules [with the] same width in different weights. Macho includes a large set of boxes and underlinings that can be overlapped on the letters” (quoted from designer Luciano Perondi’s CAST foundry website). Macho has a total of 774 glyphs and comes as Macho Modular, Macho Box, and Box Dash, each style being available in Thin, Light, Regular, Medium, and Bold.

The really nice thing about Macho is that there is this small imperfection. You will probably not notice at first sight, because the overall impression is so staggering. But there is something that disturbs those confident, assertive looks, the somewhat slick surface: Macho carries a scar. It (I would rather say “he”, at this point) has this little kink. Like a buckling or a crack right below the knee, it disrupts the perfect lines of the letters’ legs. You can find it in the angle of the lower part of the right side of the uppercase ‘N’, or in the upper part of the middle bar of the lowercase ‘m’.

This little kink in the knee made me feel sanguine about the macho attitude Macho spreads. Yes, I admit, I fell for Macho. I will love typewriter fonts always. (My middle name is Trixie.) This newcomer is a classic — with a charming twinkle in his eye.

Sonja Knecht is a writer who lives in Berlin. Dedicated to language and letters and their cultural implications, she profiles type, type people, and type projects. She sometimes still works in corporate communications and, since 2011, for TYPO. Sonja loves to translate, teach, and talk about text. She is happily married to a type designer.

Post a Comment

Comments at Typographica are moderated and copyedited, just like newspaper “Letters to the Editor”. Abusive or off-topic comments are not published. We appreciate compliments, but don’t publish them unless they add to the dialog. Thank you!