Copenhagen street signage project

Flösser's picture

Hello fellow typelovers!

I'm doing a new typeface for the streetsigns in central Copenhagen (Denmark) as a schoolproject. This is a work in progress, but I'd love to hear your opinions.

Currently we're using a version of Transport, except for a few places where the old signs with varying typefaces remain. I want to replace Transport with something that is modern, but still capsules the architecture and typographical history we have (Engelhardt, Biilmaan, Bindesbøll, Achton Friis etc.).

I've attached a pdf with examples of streetnames in my font, along with the typeface at its current state. I should mention that I'm very inspired by Engelhardts quirky old signs, example attached here:

Your critique would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

New CPH signtype.pdf58.82 KB
Copenhagen signtype version.3.pdf1002.83 KB
peter_bain's picture

You didn't explain the various criteria for your project. Is readability most important, or is maintaining continuity with Danish letterform history important, or do you interpret "something that is modern" to mean it must be sans serif? What combination?

If you can answer questions like these, you'll have a direction to go in. The attachments seem like rubbings of the Engelhardt letters, which might be nice for print, but maybe not what you would want for new signs.

Flösser's picture

Hi, and thanks for your comment. Readability is important, but since I reckon people will have a good amount of time to interpret the signs, I don't think it should be the main thing. Maintaining continuity with the Danish letterform history is important, but I still think it's important to bring something new, which is what I'm talking about when I say 'modern'. I think an all caps serif is the way to go, like Engelhardt, because it – in my opinion – gives a more historic feel. The historic feel is important for me, as I've chosen central Copenhagen, with its 17/18'th century architecture. I want the typeface to give the viewer a feeling that they're in a historic place, but not in a museum.

I've taken alot from Engelhardts signs, but I've also tried to take it to a new place, by making it higher, give it less contrast, removing vertical serifs on the G, S, C, make it more egyptienne like, and also by opening the letterforms by making them more square. I still think it needs more of its own life though, and luckily I still have a month more to work on it.

Peter, could you please explain further why you'd like it for print but not for signs? Thanks alot!


peter_bain's picture

OK, so this is a modified version of Engelhardt's original. Maybe a sharper break with the past could be better, not sure. Your letters now might work on museum posters, brochures, banners on buildings.

It could be undistressed. The wavering outlines seem too quaint to me. Like a distressed typeface that says "olde". How much do you/should you repair for the present? What makes it Danish and not an elongated, low-contrast Walbaum?

I'm thinking of how this might appear on the street, will it be a raised or flat surface? That seems to be another question, with an effect on the design.

Anyway, good luck.

Flösser's picture

Alright, I read your critique and after sitting and playing around with the letters I realized that you're probably right about it being too 'olde' for new signs. I think it could be fun to use for a print project though, f.ex a classic inner city restaurant or something..

Now I've drawn up a sketch for a different direction, building the capitals from Engelhardt's, but with major changes, and also I've drawn a full set of minuscles. I'm still missing a couple of the capitals, and I have alot of doubts concerning the vertical serifs, especially on the s, S, C and G. I think the C and G might be too soft. I've attached the new file on the top post, seems like I can't make an attachment in a comment.

This is the first full typeface I've drawn, and I must say it's quite a mouthful..especially doing something classic, with referrals to history that still manages to be modern. Maybe that's just too much between two chairs, don't know.

About the appearance on the street, I'd like them to be flat enamel signs, white on blue. I don't know if that would be possible financially, but it would be great.

Flösser's picture

Newest version attached as pdf in the first post, here are two examples of streetnames.

Critique is very welcome, I'm new in this game so I'm all ears!


Flösser's picture

Don't know if anyone is following this besides myself, but I've attached the newest version – with alot of changes – in the top post.

Most importantly I've opened up the e, aswell as compressing the whole font even more. Also, the capitals have been justified much more. I've also changed the Æ to a more regular one, changed both K's, and removed the vertical serifs on E and F.

I think the X needs some massage on the widestroke serifs, and the dots on å and Å should be more circular.

In the pdf I've also attached some photos of Copenhagen architecture for the typeface to work along with, images of the new and old signs, and examples of signs with my typeface.

Hope you like it,

Hofweber's picture

Hey Daniel,
Will this face be open for use?
if you're still putting time into it, the instroke on G, S, & E could stand to be a bit wider, and I think the G & C's terminals could look more like S's.

Igor Freiberger's picture

This is a really interesting project. Overall result is very good, with perfect a, m, b, and d. Lowercase g is outstanding.

I agree with Hofweber about G-S-E-C and also think that (1) W is very wide; (2) Z could have a steeper central stroke –and thus be a bit wider; (3) e and c would share the same bottom curve.

Keep the nice work!

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