A few years ago, Darden Studio asked if I might be interested in designing a Cyrillic version of their Omnes typeface, a display type family that had proven particularly popular in packaging design. I was initially reluctant because, on the surface, a softly curvaceous display type seemed too removed from my usual work on text faces, and I wasn’t sure I would do a good job. But as I looked more closely at the Omnes letterforms — really looked beyond the surface — I realized that the softness sits on top of a very robust structural foundation.
With Omnes Arabic, Titus Nemeth has done an admirable job translating that relationship of structure and surface into the Arabic script, creating a design that is unmistakably Omnes while also respecting the proportions, patterns, and rhythm of Arabic. The success of his approach is particularly evident when seen in packaging design applications, which display exactly the informal, even playful characteristics that make the Latin and Cyrillic work so well in that area. The lighter weights also work convincingly in running text, where the open forms and excellent spacing of the underlying structure provide good legibility.
The design may be classed as “simplified” in terms of many traditional aspects of the Arabic script, but it’s not overly so. Judicious use of some vertical connections (e.g., for لى and في) avoid some of the uglier combinations in many modern Arabic fonts without appearing at all old-fashioned or inappropriate to the character of Omnes.
Observing how well Omnes has adapted to Arabic and Cyrillic, I look forward to seeing where Darden Studio takes it next.