Complementary Serif to Avant Garde?

kcullen80's picture


I'm working on a lifestyle booklet/catalogue for a premium brand and want to introduce a complementary serif for editorial use with their house font, Avant Garde. Would be nice to get a family that can work both as an alternative headline (to AG body) as well as suitable body copy to an AG headline. At the moment they only use Avant Garde in Medium and Book. Tonally, I'm looking to warm up what is currently a very clinical feel, and introduce changes in pace throughout the booklet.

thanks in advance for any comments/suggestions,


Jackson's picture

There's always Lubalin Graph.

cuttlefish's picture

Lubalin Graph is pretty much exactly Avant Garde with slab serifs attached. Still, even with serifs, the geometric monoline look may not be as comfortable for reading as you might want for lengthy runs of text.

cuttlefish's picture

Brioni looks like it could handle this task quite well.

kcullen80's picture

Most people do suggest Lubalin Graph, but that doesn't help us get away from the harsh geometric feel. Definitely need the warmer curves of a nice serif to balance out the spreads. I'll have a look at Brioni, but there must also be a few classic serifs out there that work well with Avant Garde.


paulstonier's picture

You could try Didone and Cabernet Swash; some other popular ones used by Herb Lubalin.

Nick Shinn's picture

In Avant Garde magazine, Lubalin paired it with Times Roman.

kcullen80's picture

Thanks guys. Paul, was there a particular Didone you were thinking of? A didone would obviously work great for headlines, but doesn't really suit as alternative body copy against AG headlines. Gonna try Nick's suggestion of using Times. Any other suggestions much appreciated.

Nick Shinn's picture

I wasn't suggesting using Times, as I have no idea what your layouts are like.
In the AG magazine, Lubalin's heads were all caps and squared off--justified columns of Times text went well with that.
It's interesting to note that another famous art director/type designer, Neville Brody, used Times as the text face of The Face, again matching justified text columns with squared off heads (in Industria).
Both art directors felt it necessary to become type designers as there were no faces available to fully satisfy the strict geometry of the layouts they wanted to do.

Dan Gayle's picture

Avant Garde is harshly geometric, but because of that you know what sort of letterforms to look at.

Would I be wrong in thinking that some oldstyle type might work? I've never really thought about it before. I'm thinking an oldstyle O, with very little contrast. Not a spindly oldstyle, and perhaps not too sophisticated in its curves. (It is after all, being matched with Avant Garde...)

There might be too much life in an oldstyle though.

Is there a such thing as a geometric oldstyle? Of course, we have examples like Albers, etc., but oldstyles are typically associated with their humanist touch. What about a geometric oldstyle with less of the humanism and more of the geometry, but without the increases in contrast associated with the move away from humanism and into rationalism and the engraving tool?

paulstonier's picture

This is the one I was thinking of

But ya, obviously it wouldn't work as a textface. Something like Minion might actually work nicely.

phattexta's picture

Hey guys,

I'm struggling with the same issue and found that archer, while not exactly geometric, has enough personality to complementy but not overwhelm avant garde. It also has a great italic if you need to soften things further. Let me know how you go.

an_ok_cook's picture

Fedra Serif looks ok

fontdesigner2's picture

Didot. Like AG, it's elegant and beautiful, but make sure you don't use it at small point sizes. Delegate/relegate that role to the AG.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

… get away from the harsh geometric feel.

I dare to say your problem is not the pairing with a serif. Your problem is Avant Garde.
Try to get rid of it and it’ll be a new life.

There *are* good sans alternatives which maintain a geometric coolness yet spare you that ‘harsh’ primitivism of AG.

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