Adele Type’s fresh look, mythical names, and experimental releases
The expanding universe of type-design grew a little more this week with the launch of the Adele Type foundry. After years in development and an early typeface release in the Spring, Lyon-based designer Matthieu Salvaggio’s new foundry opened its digital doors with four available faces and a stylish website to go with them. Salvaggio says the foundry is all about new approaches. Everything, from Adele's website to their font names, includes a dose of personality.
Typographers often notice how similar foundry sites tend to look. In Salvaggio’s words, “they’re very sharp in the way that they show their typefaces, but they lack some kind of humanity. They want to show the typefaces perfectly, but they end up looking dry.”
He worked with designer and developer Samual Gadea to build something with a bit more flair. The home page features a series of horizontally scrolling colored text boxes. Viewers might not get a clear look at the typeface’s details right then and there, but the aesthetic appeal certainly adds character—Salvaggio’s hopes the bright and unexpected design says, “come play with us” to visitors.
Adele Type’s distinct character extends to the EULA (End User License Agreement), which approaches total freedom for designers without giving away the keys. Salvaggio became annoyed reading some other foundries’ agreements: “I've seen licenses that say, ‘You can modify up to 30 percent of a glyph design, or we’ll sue you.’ Woah, dude. How can you even measure that?” Instead, the Adele EULA tries to keep it simple. Customers can do nearly everything except modify or resell their typefaces. That kind of EULA should come in handy for graphic designers, considering that some of Adele Type’s fonts are limited releases, with only 100 licenses available.
Most foundries want to sell as many fonts as possible; Adele Type, however, wants their typefaces to be as cherished. Adele Type its first typeface, Osmose, in the spring on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter. The campaign was meant to test the idea that a typeface with only 100 licenses would be coveted more heavily by its users. The experiment, it seems, was a success: “It seems people care more about it, since it became a precious item.” In the months since that release, Salvaggio has seen some impressive designers make use of Osmose. He hopes other limited releases will have a similar appeal.
While the limited release model poses some benefits, not all of Adele’s faces will receive the same treatment. In some cases, the money matters more: “I’ve been working with other designers on some of the typefaces, and it wouldn’t be fair to limit the number of typefaces sold because they wouldn’t be able to get enough money for their work.”
Adele sets sail with one limited release—Keops—and three standard release faces—Surt, Memoriam, and Arges. Visitors can also see Adele’s first release, Osmose; although, since all 100 of its licenses sold on Kickstarter earlier this year, it is listed as “sold out.”
Surt draws its name from the Norse King of Fire, a giant, devilish character. The name seems to fit, too, as the geometric sans serif’s more idiosyncratic features appear best at display sizes. By Adele’s description, counter forms in all of Surt’s 66 fonts include a distinctive “pinch,” which emerge most clearly on G, R, a, j, 2, and 5. At text sizes, Surt looks a little peculiar; at display sizes, it looks confident in its peculiarity. Currently, 16 of Surt’s 66 styles are available, with Condensed, Expanded, and Extended still on the way.
Arges, another mythically-named sans-serif typeface, takes inspiration from the Greek cyclops who crafted Zeus’s lightning. It’s heavy, tall, and has little, sharp counters. Available as a standard release, Arges comes in two styles—Black and Extreme—each with a Roman and Oblique. The Black is actually bolder than the Extreme, but the Extreme’s more condensed form and adjusted side-bearings mean that it packs more dots per inch. Salvaggio advises designers not use Arges “under 30pt, unless you want to experiment.”
Memoriam, along with Keops and Sans, makes up AT Scriptures, a larger “complex typeface family.” Keops is available in limited release, and Sans is available only upon request, leaving Memoriam the only Scriptures member widely available. Salvaggio explained that “the family was inspired by old religious book covers, though none of the included faces are revivals.” Memoriam comes in two optical sizes, each with two weights. The high-contrast serif face tries to balance between typically stern Didone forms and interestingly plump details; Salvaggio said his goal was to produce a “practical tool” that is both versatile and full of character.
Keops, a limited release that’s still available at this writing, comprises another portion of the AT Scriptures family. It looks similar to Memoriam with a few key differences. Most noticeably, Keops includes sharply diagonal strokes on shoulders, finials, and various other nooks throughout the design. Keops comes in both text and display, each with a regular and bold.
Even though the launch is keeping Salvaggio plenty busy, he’s already looking to the future. “We’re still considering adding Cyrillic to our typefaces, and we plan to release a few typefaces per year, some of which will be limited release, he says.”
Before the end of the year, Adele plans to release another limited availability typeface, AT Apoc. It’s an ornamented serif face with a wide selection of discretionary ligatures, contextual alternatives, and other “crazy stuff,” according to Salvaggio. The inspiration for Apoc came from an all-caps book cover for Apocolpyse, from which Salvaggio derived the rest of the alphabet, lowercase, figures, and italics.
Salvaggio keeps his eyes on the graphic design community, more than anything, to inform the foundry’s next moves, he says. “Type design is so niche. It’s important for me to look at graphic design and see where it’s going, and what designers need. They’re the ones who actually buy fonts. So far, we’ve seen our fonts used on some prestigious designs, but I’m excited to see what they’re used for next.”
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