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Marlene type specimen
Typeface Review

Marlene

Reviewed by Aegir Hallmundur on April 22, 2009

Marlene is an elegant, high contrast Egyptian face with a distinctive and contemporary calligraphic flourish. When I first saw it I was impressed at how incredibly crisp it was, as if drawn with a pen so sharp it could just as easily cut the paper as leave ink there.

The italic expresses this sharpness with a wonderful sense of speed; those beautiful thin upstrokes and unusually high connection points of the bowls on a, g and y, and the standout exuberance of the k feel as if it can’t wait to get you moving on to the next letter, with the stark horizontal of the terminal serif seemingly flinging you onward. The horizontal serifs along the x-height and baseline also create strong lines that add yet more of a sense of urgency and pace to text set with it. This face isn’t hanging around for anyone.

The face is contrasty too, not just of the thick and thin of upstrokes and downstrokes, but of the speed and sudden direction changes that give this face such quirky character and appeal. The regular ‘a’ is unusual in carrying through such a heavy serif from more open characters like the ‘c’ and ‘r’, and as a result ends up with a tiny counter that successfully keeps the character balanced. It’s a sign of the quality of overall design in this face that such a conceit not only works well but adds a distinctive and appealing character. I think the face is a great release and while it’d work well for body copy, especially for magazines and short copy, it will really shine in a display setting.

Aegir Hallmundur is a type-obsessed web and graphic designer living and working Brighton, England. He also runs The Ministry of Type, a website mainly about type and sometimes calligraphy, illustration, architecture and photography.

7 Comments

  1. Anthony Inciong says:

    Among this typeface’s most endearing qualities is its temperance. Djurek’s design is categorically Modern; the letterforms are brisk and resolute yet they maintain the subtle contrast associated with a broad-nib pen. As a distant student of the writing-centered perspective propagated by Gerrit Noordzij in the Hague, as well as his written account of pointed pen construction as being ‘altogether without orientation’*, I have tended to perceive the Modern style as frigid and undisciplined. Marlene sheds that acidulousness by exhibiting a warm impartiality that makes it a highly useable text face for many kinds of projects. Djurek has managed to synthesize the beauty (and sluggishness) of old styles with the vitality and rigorousness of Moderns.

    *From p. 70 of Noordzij’s, The stroke: Theory of Writing, Hyphen Press 2005.

  2. Nora says:

    This post has been just in time for me … searching for a book project … idontknowexactlywhatatypeface … thank you for leading my view to this tough beauty.

  3. Tim Brown says:

    The lowercase roman a is really something. How about that lip on its serif?

    The 7 is intriguing. I love the way its outer joint is squared off. Overall it’s a relatively lightweight character, but I don’t quite notice unless I’m looking critically. Funny how it otherwise blends in with the heavier numerals.

    “Strong lines that add yet more of a sense of urgency and pace…” – beautiful.

  4. This font looks like a French version of Times New Roman.

  5. rory says:

    Marlene is a sexy font lady, with amazing curves and a attitude to suit. But dont get to close she, she’ll draw you in and take your heart! Ouch, loving this font!

  6. locksmith says:

    I guess its Marlene Dietrich inspired. Very german looking.

  7. Joshua Hurtado says:

    Excellent font. A perfect balance of modern and classic. We will be sure to use it in upcoming designs. Thanks for the post!

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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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