205TF is a type foundry that nurtures its talent, from the bigger names to the lesser known
Based in Lyon and run by Damien Gautier, Florence Roller and Rémi Forte, the foundry’s catalogue to date is wonderfully diverse and coherent.
- Ayla Angelos
- 16 June 2021
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
205TF is a type foundry that prides itself on good working relationships. In fact, a large portion of the team’s daily ongoings are to do with supporting designers in the development and completion of their projects, all the while making sure to bring together a mix of independent type designers, whether that’s bigger names, the lesser known and those at the beginning of their careers.
The foundry is composed by a team of two founding partners Damien Gautier and Florence Roller, plus foundry manager Rémi Forte. Based out of Lyon in France, the foundry came together on a basis of difference, with each of the team’s backgrounds varying from the other and succumbing to a multidisciplinary practice from the ground up. For example, Damien is a type designer and has gone on to co-found graphic design studio Bureau 205 and publishing house Éditions deux-cent-cinq, which he runs alongside Florence – who also co-directs the foundry’s operations. Rémi leads the foundry’s coordination, communication and customer relations, and assists the designers in their typeface projects. Together, they each span titles of graphic designers, type designers, publishers, authors, teachers and researchers.
“Our approach and perception of typography is therefore very broad,” Damien tells us. “Encouraging the sharing and transmission of ideas through the use of the written word is what unites us and inspires us in everything we do. The diversity of our activities and the variety of our means of expression allows us to have an understanding of the implications of typography and its ecosystem.”
Besides its noteworthy ethos of nurturing talent no matter the experience, 205TF also relies on history to form the crux of their output. That being, “a tradition and how-know of French typographic creation,” explains Florence. “We refer to it, we make it last and re-interrogate it simultaneously.” So much so that each of the foundry’s designers and their creations behold a certain sense of “French spirit”; even the initials of TF stands for Type Foundry and Typography Française (which translates to French Typography).
At present, there are numerous type designers involved, including Thomas Bouville, Juliette Collin, Matthieu Cortat, Thierry Fétiveau, Thomas Huot-Marchand and Clément Le Tulle-Neyret to name a view. It takes careful consideration to pick the type of work for the foundry, which is put together by a bi-annual selection committee comprising Matthieu Cortat, Thomas Huot-Marchand, Alice Savoie and the founding team. During which, they will all come together and collectively examine the projects in their inboxes, or sift through those that they’ve discovered. “We rely on the expertise and experience of the committee members,” says Rémi. “Their insight allows us to keep our horizons open and to evolve, while remaining true to the founding principles of the foundry.” What’s more is that they will select a piece of work based on a “strong idea”, rather than a “purely formal approach”, meaning that its entire catalogue is replete with diverse and coherent approaches.
This can be seen in its plethora of typefaces, like Clément Le Tulle-Neyret’s Immortel, a type family featuring four variants and developed according to the “Hippocratic theory of humours,” notes Damien. “Each one is the cause behind the development of a character trait: phlegm represents a lymphatic, sluggish, slow character (Immortal Infra); yellow bile, an angry and prideful character (Immortal Colera); blood, a jovial and warm character (Immortal Vena); and black bile provokes hopelessness and melancholy (Immortal Acedia).” When seen together, it’s like a family of human characteristics, each composed cleverly into different forms that represent the complexities of the mind and body. And not to mention the fact that each variant can be substituted for another, “without causing any change in the bulkiness of the text,” says Florence, “as the metric system, which provides a structural link between the variants – set width, x-heights, the length of ascenders and descenders, height of capitals – is constant.”
Heliuum, designed by Damien, on the other hand, is “not just a typeface” and instead offers up a playful typographic program. Achieved through punchy shapes and different character sets, each of the three sets can stand in different heights; “four sets of lowercase letters stand on four different base lines, aligned from the bottom to the top of the highest capitals,” he adds. “A close look reveals that the letters are not optically corrected, but many details give delicacy to its raw forms. Heliuum delicately places itself between the mechanical and the sophisticated.” Damien continues to cite the OpenType ligature feature as that which has enabled the letter variations to become accessible on the keyboard, and likened the easiness to playing a piano. “The possible combinations are infinite.”
So far, 205TF has much to offer in terms of its wide mix of fonts. Soon – in the coming months, even – the team plan to release a whole lot more. This includes the release of typefaces by Matthieu Cortat with Louize Display Condensed, Damien’s SuperBloo and Thomas Huot-Marchand with Mononi. And various designers will be proposing new ideas and projects. “We look forward to publishing the work of these designers,” concludes Rémi. “Some of the typefaces are nearing completion after several years work, others are just beginning, and all are particularly promising.”
205TF: Garaje by Thomas Huot-Marchand. Project: La Phrase. Graphic Design: Laboratoire IRB. (Copyright © Thomas Huot-Marchand, 2015)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.