Typeface Review

FF Spinoza

Reviewed by Tânia Raposo on January 25, 2012

FF Spinoza first caught my attention with its beautiful, light-hearted Black Italic. When I got to look at the typeface as a whole, the successful alternation of hard and soft shapes throughout the whole family makes Spinoza a very fresh interpretation of classical text type principles.

The typeface has medium contrast, strong serifs, and angular cuts which derive from the broad nib construction. These cuts also serve as ink traps, helping it perform well even in small sizes. In the heavier weights, the details get more chunky and expressive, ideal for display settings. Its slightly increased x-height helps for better legibility and also for a more economical text setting, which are good features for magazine and book design.

FF Spinoza is the first venture into type design by Max Phillips. He states that completing Spinoza took 11 years of his life. Despite that astonishing figure I would say the time invested has paid off. And what a type designer learns in their first work they put into the projects that follow, so I think the next Phillips typeface will come quicker. I look forward to seeing more of his ideas.

Tânia Raposo is a type and graphic designer from Portugal. She received her Graphic Design BFA at ESAD.IPL, Portugal and her Type and Media Master’s degree at KABK, Netherlands. She has worked as a graphic designer for the studios Itemzero in Lisbon and Atlas in Palma de Mallorca and as a curatorial assistant at the Letterform Archive, and is focusing on freelance jobs in both type and graphic design today. After moving around Europe and the US she has now settled in the Bay Area. She buys too many books, collects stamps that look good and wishes one day Nick Sherman will take her to a Monster Truck Show. This wish has been fulfilled!

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