Typeface Review

Today Sans Now

Reviewed by Norman Hathaway on May 9, 2016

I’ve been asked repeatedly to write reviews of my favorite typeface releases of the year, and always wince, as I’m barely aware of any new releases, and tend to use a small handful of tried and trues, and am a bit confused by the endless flood of new designs.

So as I was composing my thanks-but-no-thanks email reply, I was shocked to find not one but two new faces that I not only liked, but actually loved. (One review will come later this year.)

Who’d have thought Today Sans would get taken in, bathed, shaved — and remastered by the technically solid foundry Elsner+Flake? Meritorious!

My favorite typeface to hail from the middle-German hamlet of Wernigerode, Today Sans is a gentle humanist face that arrived in 1988, before the nineties humanist sans influx of Scala, Thesis, and Legacy. It was an improvement over the Gill Sans / Frutiger / Syntax trifecta then commonly in use and possesses more delicate nuances than, say, Gill, which was born during a more geometric (blunt?) period. It was also unusual among sans serifs in that it included 2 subfamilies drawn and spaced for text or headline sizes.

Despite its special qualities, Today Sans was difficult to find in the early years because Scangraphic didn’t have the best distribution in the world. Since then, the solid but punily promoted digital versions snoozed deep in font libraries, hidden from contemporary users. This new OpenType-savvy version not only adds Cyrillic and new weight options between its bolds, it introduces a classic to a new generation of designers.

Its designer Volker Küster studied calligraphy under the great Albert Kapr, and it shows. Today has beautiful stroke endings and the variety of weights seems natural and effortless, unlike in many sans serifs, whose heavier weights often feel forced or unrelated. Today also has a very beautiful and unique italic, with many characters subtly revealing Küster’s background in hand lettering. Some may find it overly humanistic or old-fashioned, but I admire its delicacy.

Norman Hathaway is a creative director and design historian based in Brooklyn. Has has worked for a broad range of clients in Europe and the US for the music and publishing industries as well as cultural institutions. He has taught at the Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths College and London College of Communication, and is the author of Electrical Banana and Dorothy and Otis.


  1. Albert-Jan Pool says:

    So interesting … and Volker Küster does not get a single penny from this anymore. Although he is entitled to. At least morally. Neither for Today Sans Serif, nor for this unauthorized version called Today Sans Now.

  2. Albert-Jan Pool says:

    Volker Küster was born in Wernigerode, but by the time he designed Today Sans Serif he had already left the former German Democratic Republic (aka East Germany). Shortly after leaving the GDR, he moved from West-Berlin to Hamburg because Scangraphic engaged him as their new type director.

  3. Blythwood says:

    Those condensed umlauts are so great.

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