The first the public saw of Remo was Remo Stencil, Thomas Thiemich’s contribution to the smart and well-crafted series of stencil faces released by OurType in 2012. Remo’s release in 2013 is the first case I can think of where a typeface has appeared first as a stencil display face, and then in a more practical form for setting text.
Remo is named for San Remo (Sanremo), Italy; Thiemich says his design was inspired by the lettering on old auto racing posters for the Rallye Sanremo and Rallye dei Fiori. Also (and, Thiemich says, not coincidentally), “Remo” has four letters — like “Alto” and “Fakt”, his first two commercial typeface releases.
Remo completely lives up to OurType’s description of “coming close to defining a new class of sans serif typefaces”. It’s based on a mainly Geometric skeleton, but it includes many touches of Grotesque and Humanist designs (including alternate glyphs for ‘M’, ‘a’, ‘d’, ‘e’, ‘l’, ‘u’, and ‘y’) that can nudge it closer to or further away from those categories. (Thiemich also adopted this approach to alternate glyphs when designing Fakt.) The ‘A’, ‘P’, and ‘R’ are a bit reminiscent of Neutraface’s signature low hips, but look at the ‘B’, ‘E’, ‘F’, and ‘G’, and you’ll see that Thiemich made those choices with function and balance in mind; viewed in context, they are clearly not affectations.
Add italics with many truly cursive features, ten weights from Thin to Ultra, real small capitals, and full sets of ranging, oldstyle, and small cap figures that echo (somehow) both Futura and Gill Sans, and the product is a typeface that is remarkably fresh and flexible, earnest but not at all solemn, and appropriate to a wide range of applications. And Remo Plus offers slightly taller ascenders, which would feel more comfortable in longform running text.
Remo is one of a number of typographically sophisticated sans serifs released in the last handful of years — like Fakt, or Hannes von Döhren and Livius Dietzel’s FF Basic Gothic, or von Döhren, Christoph Koeberlin, and FontFont’s FF Mark, or (going back to 2009) Fred Smeijers’ Ludwig — that should be pushing graphic designers to demand even more of sans serif designs than they have learned to do since the appearance of Erik Spiekermann’s FF Meta and Martin Majoor’s FF Scala Sans. Thiemich’s latest is further evidence that a well-designed sans face can do anything we expect of serif faces.
OurType, founded by Smeijers and Rudy Geeraerts in 2002, has become well known for typefaces that combine innovation and contemporary approaches to design with a firm grounding in history and traditional typography. Remo is yet another successful addition to their line. We should look forward to seeing more, both from the designer and the foundry.
Maurice Meilleur is a recovering political theorist turned graphic designer and committed typophile. He is a professor of graphic design at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, where he teaches typography and design inquiry.