Typeface Review

Palatino Sans

Reviewed by Hrant Papazian on July 11, 2007

There are two old things about Palatino Sans. One general: that it’s based on a venerable design, its serifed aunt. And one personal: that I first saw it during the TypeCon of 2004, becoming uncharacteristically giddy during the wait for its release.

There are also two new things about Palatino Sans. One that it was in fact released recently. The other, which is the reason this review needs to be written at all, is that it’s shockingly forward-looking. Even the typographically jaded, I feel, would be surprised to see such an effort, at least not by a large, mainstream foundry nominally intent on leveraging its legacy.

The confluence of competence, freedom and kiai (more on that below) evident in Palatino Sans is breathtaking. The sober organicity, the bravado of the raised ‘r’, the confident flair of the italic; all done before, but never in such a usable, contemporary whole. The texture of its setting is dynamic yet serene, reminiscent of a masterful exhibit of martial arts.

Officially, the brilliance of this effort is ascribed to the old master, Zapf. But I, for one, have to wonder whether this isn’t essentially a product of Kobayashi instead, delivering a personal showing of bujutsu.

Hrant Papazian is an Armenian native of Lebanon; his perspective on written communication was formed at the crossroads of three competing visual cultures. He now lives in Los Angeles. A recipient of type design awards from Critique magazine, Granshan, and Creative Review, Hrant has delivered numerous presentations at international typographic conferences from Boston to Bangkok.

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