Typeface Review


Reviewed by Ellen Lupton on March 11, 2014

Zuzana Licko’s relaxed sans with gently rounded edges will have many uses, but I’m particularly interested in how nicely it will play with illustrations.

With so many designers today interested in creating illustrated artwork, and with so many illustrators and artists working with type and communication, there is a need for typefaces with a softer focus. Licko has given us just that. Program’s blunted corners are in­spired by the dulling effects of print, and the ink traps are traditionally devised to counteract the smudge and blur of mechanical reproduction. The result is a typeface that has a sturdy, manufactured feeling.

The team at Emigre explains that Program and Program Narrow are designed with matching stem weights, a feature designed to help designers mix the two versions in posters and headlines. Program Narrow has a more modern, upright flair, while Program’s gentler details are more calligraphic. (Note the tail endings of lowercase ‘a’, ‘d’, ‘b’, ‘k’, and ‘u’, as well as capital ‘R’ and ‘K’.) While Program may find its widest usage as a display face, the family’s book weights, italics, and old style numerals make it a full-service type language.

Ellen Lupton is a writer, graphic designer, and curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Her book Thinking with Type is a basic guide to typography directed at everyone who works with words.

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