Typeface Review

ALS Lamon

Reviewed by Rob Keller on October 18, 2018

I still remember being immediately attracted to ALS Lamon because of its incredibly novel concept and brilliant execution. The design has a very difficult brief: first, both upper- and lowercase letters appear together in the same glyph; second, the letters are (mostly) drawn with single strokes.

This creates an interesting dynamic between the uppercase letters (which are bold and brushy) and the lowercase (which are petite, cursive, and monolinear). While most letters are made from single strokes, there are exceptions. Characters like J, X, Ґ, and are rendered with multiple lines and segments — yet the look and feel of the letters is perfectly maintained. For all its complexity, ALS Lamon is impressively legible and each character is perfectly balanced. That alone makes me call this exercise a huge success!

The main distraction lies with some of the “extra” glyphs (like .,:;*\/()–“”«»+×÷), which don’t follow the logic of the other letters. Their closed loops of single outlines create a visually simpler character that stands out in running text. In most cases, I think, it could have worked to add smaller versions of the symbols to the insides — similar to the treatment of the numbers.

But the big question is this: Should ALS Lamon be considered one of the best typefaces of the year? By most benchmarks — what it offers (weights, styles, glyphs, and OpenType features), quality of the outlines, range of usability, etc. — probably not. It has one weight with only basic Latin and Cyrillic glyphs, plus a handful of symbols and punctuation.

I keep thinking that I wish this typeface would have moar (weights, styles, diacritics, etc.), but maybe there is already enough. Because where and how will this typeface be used? It would be great for a logo and headlines, or maybe drop caps would be cool — it basically just needs to be used fairly large and sparingly to work well. So with this relatively limited usability, maybe it doesn’t actually make sense to add more (except for language support). And while I’m usually into expansive families for “serious” typesetting, I fully support more new purely display types. The world would be a pretty boring place if there were only text typefaces!

In the end, ALS Lamon is what it is, and for me that is a memorable typeface that deserves to get checked out, appreciated, and used. And please, someone, make this type out of neon already!

Rob Keller is a type designer living in Mumbai, India. You can see his work over at Mota Italic and at his blog at You Should Like Type Too.

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