Typeface Review

SangBleu

Reviewed by Jean-Baptiste Levée on May 9, 2016

SangBleu Sans embodies a spectrum of tensions that, from a type designer’s perspective, are particularly difficult to give form to. In this case, the tensions occur between the characteristic traits of a serif typeface and the expected behavior of a sans, blended in a common skeleton.

Stemming from a sibling project, Romain, SangBleu departs from both humanist sans and grotesks. It is hard to find a category it could fit into, yet it does not seem like an outsider. SangBleu performs well, acts solid, and delivers just the right voice of quietness and confidence. “Conservative delusion or … offbeat modernity,” as the foundry describes it, could maybe be found in the structure of the family. While SangBleu Sans flexes its French Modernism flavor across enough style to build a system, SangBleu Serif deemed that only two weights would make a suitable home.

The result is a delight not so much for my brain as for my eyes. It’s not what I know that makes SangBleu so distinctive and effective, but what I see: a delicate, modern type that conveys just the right moods of classicism and contemporariness.

Such balances are quite an achievement, and where others are still lost asking themselves where to put the serifs or which shape would make a letter more original, SangBleu hovers quietly and swiftly in the room, busy with higher considerations.

Jean-Baptiste Levée is a typeface designer who runs the foundry Production Type in Paris, France. He has designed over a hundred typefaces for industry, moving pictures, fashion, and publishing. He is a board member at ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale). He also curates exhibitions on typeface design, organizes research symposiums, and teaches typeface design at the Amiens school of Arts & Design and at the University of Corte. He is a typography columnist and editor at Pointypo.com.

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