Neue Kabel fonts

Typeface Review

Neue Kabel

Reviewed by Dan Reynolds on July 5, 2017

By the time my first draft for this review hit the 300-word mark, I noticed that I’d used up all my space just writing about Karl Klingspor (1868–1950). So I started over, and hit 300 words again just writing about Rudolf Koch (1876–1934). I didn’t even get in a mention about his design of the original Kabel typeface, released from 1927 onward, or about last year’s Neue Kabel and its designer, Marc Schütz. I obviously have difficulties with this format.

My intended audience for this review is Typographica’s editor Stephen Coles; the rest of you needn’t read on. Stephen wrote me in February to ask if I wouldn’t like to review Neue Kabel, and I got worried. Although I knew that he knew that I loved the typeface, Ferdinand Ulrich’s detailed article about its release was already great. Then there is the excellent video interview with Marc and Ferdinand. Who needs to read anything else about Neue Kabel after that?

If you’ve gotten this far, let me tell you that Marc is the man. I first had the pleasure of meeting him at an ATypI conference a few years ago; I think he had just finished the first version of what would eventually become Neue Kabel for the HfG Offenbach’s 2013 annual report. You might know about this fabled school, where Koch once taught, and where Lukas Schneider was a student. I attended it myself, about fourteen years ago, though with only mediocre results; still, it remains close to my heart. In 2013, the institution ran into an understandable problem: Kabel was a great typeface for them to use in print…in theory. In practice, unfortunately, every available digital interpretation failed. Marc’s digital redesign of Kabel, from the ground up, saved the day. I got to look over his shoulder once or twice as the family grew, and I was very pleased to see it finally released.

In the video interview I mentioned, Marc tells Ferdinand that Neue Kabel’s character set is robust enough for someone to typeset an entire thesis with it. Thanks to him, I’m considering composing at least part of my dissertation in the typeface, too. I certainly agree that the fonts are good enough to handle that kind of typography. But first I need to finish my writing; no more Typographica reviews until that’s done!

Dan Reynolds is a failed spirit, living in Berlin, but at least he finally has a dog. Occasionally, he designs typefaces (even one or two good ones), but he more often writes minor copy for typefoundries and font-retail websites. In 2015, he finally started working on the dissertation he planned in 2011; it is due in Spring 2018. Wish him luck! He really needs it.

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  1. […] Kabel and Erbar-Grotesk have always been my favorite geometric faces — with a slight preference for the latter, a design by Jakob Erbar (1878–1935). Fortunately, the idea of an updated Erbar-Grotesk fell into the skilled hands of a type designer who happens to have a strong interest in the latest font technology. CJ Dunn’s Dunbar is less an exact digital revival than a rediscovery of Erbar-Grotesk, taken to another level through what is possible with today’s tools. […]

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