The Best Type of this Decade

evanmacdonald's picture

A whole lot of type has been designed over the past ten years. What are the best of the best of 2000-2009?

So! What are the best typefaces of the last ten years and who are the best new type designers?

Be sure to post links!

kosal's picture

I bet this is gonna be a long one. I'll just get it out of the way now: Gotham.

riccard0's picture

You'll need to wait at least another decade before you can say which ones were the best of this decade.

quadibloc's picture

I think I'll go with Williams Caslon Text.

flooce's picture

Not an expert, but in my research for a brilliant serif, I think Cycles is for me personally an impressive creation, liked it more than all the other Serifs I saw from this decade - and there are a lot of great ones.

quadibloc's picture

I'm impressed by Cycles as well. The fact that the different versions are in separate fonts, instead of multiple masters of a single font, is positive, since it allows one to choose which size to use each version for: my taste would be to use the versions for smaller sizes than the actual size in which I was printing.

Feelingrandy's picture

There are fonts that define an age, no doubt. What comes to my mind is a font called cowboys http://www.dafont.com/bleeding-cowboys.font. It is from dafont and if you have ever taught typography you know dafont is a students best friend. But this font, which has used been extensively in posters, ads, editorial, etc., seems to define our time: it's free, its distressed and it makes a designer look good without much effort.

riccard0's picture

[Bleeding Cowboys] seems to define our time: it’s free, its distressed and…

Get instantly overused! ;-)

Jokes aside, it seems to me that the typeface of this decade seems already overused just after a year or two.

evanmacdonald's picture

Randy,

I am going to have to disagree with you. I think dafont.com is a steep and slippery slope for students. Free fonts are a prime example of "you get what you pay for" with very few exceptions. Not only this, I find that when designers (students especially) grow comfortable with DaFont, that they begin to devalue type overall and become more prone to find unethical methods of acquiring the truly great typefaces.

In my opinion, Bleeding Cowboy does not seem to define our time; it looks to me like it was designed to define a previous era.

Riccard0: it seems to me that the typeface of this decade seems already overused just after a year or two.
what typeface are you talking about, pray-tell?

cheers

evan

Feelingrandy's picture

Mr Evan
in my heart I agree with you. But I do think Bleeding Cowboy transcended its visual intent by becoming a modern typeface that has nothing to do with cowboys or the West. I remember many years ago in NYC, DJ Jonathan Schwartz was about to play the definitive sound of the eighties—much to everyone's surprise, it was Jane Fonda's Workout.
Students do grow comfortable with dafont and the sad reality is, they really want to pay for little, given the high cost of tuition. Teaching typography, one can instill the notion that "you get what you pay for" but for the most part, at this point in their lives, they are happy about "borrowing" fonts, program, music, etc. The subject of this thread was a font that defined or defines our times. By defining one assumes that is not about liking it, but seeing it as some larger aspect of the culture. In that regard, Bleeding Cowboy is the Jane Fonda Workout.

hrant's picture

You probably all know my choice: Legato.
And way beyond just the past decade.
http://new.typographica.org/2005/on-typography/our-favorite-typefaces-of...

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Surely the very excellent Cycles family was released in the 1990s.

flooce's picture

I am sorry, I didn't know, my source said 2004, maybe it was just finished then.

begsini's picture

For me, the list would be remiss not to include Klavika.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

What are your criteria for “best”?

appeal?
beauty?
craziness?
legibility?
amount of weights?
amount of characters?
amount of ot features?
...?

Bloodtype's picture

My fave would have to be Proxima Nova. For the seamless blending of geometric, clasically proportioned letters and the more modern, currently preferred humanist type. I know other fonts are in this area (e.g. Avenir, Museo Sans) but I think Proxima does it best. Really flexible (loads of weights and widths) when I'm using type for image making, integration with a grid. Geometric fonts are too sterile (kind of unwordy) and have a dated look. To me it carresses the nebulous delicious threshold between looking and reading (pretentious, moi?)

Hrant, Legato is beautiful. Do you think you could elaborate on the critique you gave on typographica, as I didn't quite understand it?

Regards

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Dolly could be worthy the list (released in 2001) but I guess it might owe to much to earlier designs. Also Fedra (2001-) very much define the decade.

nina's picture

Defining the decade != being the best. Influence/usage/ubiquity isn't necessarily directly proportional to quality… I'm in the Legato camp.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

For non-coders: "!=" means "not equal". I still think both Fedra and Dolly are some of the highest quality type from the 2000s, Nina. I second Legato also.

nina's picture

O, I didn't mean to imply those two are bad quality.

Brieck's picture

As stated, what are the criteria;

Beautiful workhorse;
Arnhem

Great contemporary face – and works better than Dolly, for me;
Odile

Nick Shinn's picture

Evan, there are no criteria that can determine the "Best" type.
You have created a time-waster for those who like to show off their impeccable good taste.
At the very least, "Best" is overambitious, most listists opt for "Top Ten". Are you trying to provoke controversy?
Not only that, but you are a lazy so-and-so who couldn't even be bothered to declare his own candidates!

Brieck's picture

Humor.

begsini's picture

It's amazing how some people can immediately propose a typeface and others completely stymie themselves (and maybe others) with over-intellectualization.

Nick Shinn's picture

Jarrod, my gut feeling despises the very notion of "best".
The best type is the best type for the job at hand.

Brieck's picture

What's your point begsini? Isn't this more about 'Which type have you enjoyed most or – for that matter – worked most with this Decade?' Or even admired, but never got around to it?

There's a saying in Dutch that almost sounds like 'It't in the eye of the beholder', but than again not.

hrant's picture

Nick simply has an allergy to the foot end of the pedestal.

hhp

evanmacdonald's picture

Nick!

You have got me in a corner! What are the best? I guess that is different for everyone. (IMO) the best faces are the ones that have enough in them to allow a designer to set beautiful text. Type that one might predict would become a standard in years to come (in this sense, I agree with riccard0's first comment in this thread). Type faces like Univers, Scala, DIN, Minion, Meta, etc.

My favs would have to be (in no particular order):

Archer from H&FJ
Skolar from Type Together
Alejandro Paul's Adios
Apex Serif
And I am excited to get to know Calluna a little better!

I am really bad at top-ten-esque lists! Maybe you're right, Nick. Maybe I am lazy :)

In this context, the questions of "best" is really of a subjective nature, not objective. I guess my original question was "what are your favs!"

cheers!

evan

William Berkson's picture

I agree with Nick that if you are going to do this, it needs to be at last top ten, and probably by category. That being said, that quadribloc fellow sure has good taste :)

Of new designers, the first that come into my head as new and awesome are Kris Sowersby and Underware.

Brieck's picture

@ evanmacdonald
Have you books with Skolar?

Brieck's picture

'done books', that is.

evanmacdonald's picture

@Brieck

I have not! Have you?

@begsini

Great points there! I think there is an objective method for defining what are the best typefaces. While objectivity wasn't the point of this thread (I probably should've titled it "Favorite typefaces of the decade"), I think it raises an interesting question! HOWEVER! To pull the rug out from under your logic, arial is widely used beyond the scope of the personal computer (in signage, print, and even this almost-awesome title sequence). I don't think we'd find a pair of typophiles who think Arial is a great typeface.

Good points all around tho!

evan

begsini's picture

@Brieck

Hey, hoe gaat het?

I think you got my point exactly, which was that one needn't necessarily have reacted to the word "best" so literally and strictly, but maybe listed fonts that answered any of your suggested questions.

Anyway, I probably sounded negative, but I thought it was an interesting contrast. I value the (over)intellectualization here.

@Nick
I certainly see your point, but it requires the contextualization of every font (or font choice, if you will). On the other hand, there are fonts there are just well crafted, widely used, and beautiful (ahem... Gotham... ahem). Who would say Gotham was THE best choice every time is has been used? Yet, there it is, a great font being used over and over and over. I'd say it's one of the best of the decade. ;)

begsini's picture

Yep, my intention was not at all to equate wide usage with greatness, only to suggest we could possibly evaluate greatness outside the context of a particular usage.

russellm's picture

"…at least a top ten…"

And, taking a page from the Grammys, about 55 categories.

-=®=-

hrant's picture

> What are your criteria for “best”?

To me, the main thing is to change the future, for the better.

Owen, the explanation of why Legato is so special is admittedly esoteric, and difficult to do in the short space I had for the Typographica thing. I can't use up too much space/time here either... Basically though it breaks our dependency on the tools used (if only metaphorically) to make 99.9% of type; these tools are handwriting, and the grid.

Top ten? There is a useful purity in a singularity.

hhp

Celeste's picture

I’d go with Legato as well — and not only because I’m French and that Evert Bloesma used our revered Antique Olive as a point of departure in designing Legato.

hrant's picture

You're not the first French type person to claim that... some of you are much more explicit... :-) I think there's probably some truth to it, but Evert had many other inspirations too (as we all do). And remember, Excoffon was a flamboyant display face designer, while Evert was a quiet intellectual designer, so their intentions (to me something central) couldn't have been too close. Roger did get all the chicks though.

hhp

begsini's picture

@hrant

Does this make Legato special because it's a better way, or a new, different, interesting way?

quadibloc's picture

I liked Rongel, although I went and checked Updike which I believe reproduces what it claims to be a revival of, and might quibble about authenticity. But then, I'm not typographically sophisticated enough to see what's special about Legato - or even tell it from Stone Sans or Lucida Sans.

Also, I thought it was nice that Amira showed that Optima-style serifs could be used with other typefaces as well.

hrant's picture

Jarrod: Yes, I think Legato follows a better path. Not always the best path, but a path that needs to be explored and leveraged. Extremely few fonts do this, and none that I know of that have done it so convincingly.

hhp

nina's picture

More great in-depth exploration of Legato: http://typophile.com/node/55783

One of my favorite things about Legato is that it's so "undercover".
People who don't know what it does (and even people who should know) still like it because it's so friendly; its radical newness is not of the in-your-face sort.
Legato is a smiling revolutionary.

hrant's picture

«A revolutionary must have a cool head and a warm heart.» -Lenin
Evert was like that.

hhp

Celeste's picture

@ hrant
What do you mean, “much more explicit” ?
I'm a big fan of Bloesma’s typefaces, anyway — all of them. I quite like “slightly dark” text types, and FF Avance definitely does the trick for me.

hrant's picture

Stéphane:
Well, one French type designer once told me: "He stole our ideas." :-)
And he was referring to more than just Legato. (BTW, I won't say
who it was, but for the record I will say it wasn't JFP.)

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

My favs...

That's more like it Evan.

But I wonder if the types people have said are their favorites really are the faces they favor for their own work.
Sure, there are faces one has often seen well used, and admired, but they would be favorites as a reader or connoisseur.
What are the new faces that people who are graphic designers, art directors and typographers have actually used the most--i.e. what are your "go to" faces?

The only art direction I've done most of the decade involves promoting my own faces, so I don't really have a favorite in that sense, but it could be that Scotch Modern is my favorite, as I've been using it as my browser default face since 2005.

There are lots of faces I've admired for one reason or another, but I wouldn't say they were favorites or best.
Recently, I've liked Memoriam and Klimax. I was living in the UK when the Guardian was redesigned in 2005, and that was probably the typographic highlight of the decade for me (that didn't involve my own work)--of course the types involved were wonderful, but they were only part of the picture.

If there is one face I could perhaps credit as Best, and most inspirational, it would be from the perspective of someone who has designed multi-script, feature rich OpenType faces, and it's there that I would single out Robert Slimbach's work in Arno. I mean, polytonic italic small caps? Five optical sizes? Cyrillic and Greek Swash caps? That's setting the bar pretty high!

...to change the future, for the better.

That's a good criterion Hrant, and your choice accords. But if Legato is so important, how come even its leading type-designer advocate hasn't got around to designing a face along its principles? Put up or shut up!

hrant's picture

> how come even its leading type-designer advocate hasn’t
> got around to designing a face along its principles?
> Put up or shut up!

«Do as I say, not as I do.»

I don't think shutting up is entirely beneficial; if I can make others realize the importance of something, I'm doing society a service. But I am actually working towards that, if only at a snail's pace. Another quote:
«Watching me work is like watching a refrigerator make ice.»
- Matthew Carter

Sadly, my ice doesn't match Carter's however! :-/

hhp

aric's picture

Perhaps the revolutionary nature of Legato comes less from the actual theory used and more from the fact that it successfully used a completely new theory.

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