The Apfel Brukt is Collletttivo’s new eco-friendly typeface that uses less ink

In the form of a publication, T-shirt and type specimen, the Apfel Brukt features bite-sized holes, soft curves and airy shapes that reduce the amount of ink used by 18 per cent.

23 January 2020

Climate change is an increasingly prominent issue. More and more are we feeling its effects: the year’s four seasons basically becoming two, and wildfires, hurricanes and hail storms in June are becoming the norm. It’s a scary state we’re in right now, but what can be done – especially if you’re a type designer?

Tackling this in a small yet effective way is Collletttivo, a type foundry established in 2017. Formed with an ethos based on collaboration, the open-source type foundry is “open to anyone who has an interesting typographic project and wants to distribute it for free, it’s a platform accessible to all,” explains Matteo Maggi, one of seven Milan-based members. We last heard from the team in March 2019 and, since then, much has been added to their portfolio. Not only have they revamped their website and taken part in some panel discussions but they were the special guests of Sprint 2019, an independent publishers and artist book shop based in Milan, and they even launched four new typefaces – including the Necto momo, Sneaky Times, Coconat and the Apfel Grotezk. Most prominent is its new-found focus is the topic of climate change and spreading environmental awareness, as seen in its Still Hot in October publication and its most recent typeface Apfel Brukt – Apfel Grotezk’s “eco-friendly twin”.

After being invited to the Sprint fair in November, Collletttivo’s members decided to present a project on a theme that they all care about – that is, sustainability. “We felt the urgency both in bringing attention to the problem of climate change, as well as trying to do something,” Matteo tells It’s Nice That. Thus, while addressing the topic with “different approaches and artefacts,” the team decided that saving ink was its main concern. In order to progress, they looked back to its predecessor, The Apfel Grotezk Regular – designed by member Luigi Gorlero, Matteo describes it as a “sans serif with a friendly attitude,” which draws inspiration from geometric fonts and neo-grotesque characters.


Collletttivo: Apfel Brukt Booklet

For its sustainable and updated version, the Apfel Brukt, Matteo continues to explain the decision for using soft curves, the “airy” counter shapes and the “emphasised” x-height: “We realised that by piercing each glyph in the blackest points, the font – printed in small size – remained legible but consumed 18 per cent less ink than normal. At large points, on the other hand, the holes could be a cool feature, capable of giving more personality to the font.”

As for its usage, Collletttivo exhibited the specimen at the Sprint fair, which sat alongside a Tt-shirt and printed publication. The physical addition of a small book successfully served as a handy guide to the ways in which we can all reduce our consumption and adopt a more sustainable way of living. “Every page gives a tip that tries to face the topic in the most digestible way possible,” says Matteo. Picking up the publication, you’re at first greeted by a friendly looking worm and apple – the protagonists of the narrative. The story begins with the tale of an irresistible “round and chubby” red apple, because who can resist one, right? Well, this tale is based on the moral that the more apples you decide to eat, the less ink you’re using – in reference to the bite-sized “holes everywhere” that have been calculated in accordance to legibility. Next up, there’s a recipe page that briefly instructs you to bake an apple pie, before navigating you to where you can download the typeface.

It’s a succinct yet impactful project that sees Collletttivo embark on new, meaningful endeavours. Further commenting on what’s changed since last year, Matteo says: “I can’t really say that our process has evolved, we are still the same seven people meeting in a kitchen during the weekends. But I think we are more aware of what we can do and what we want to do.” That includes reducing the impact of production as much as possible, whether that involves printing the paper using Risograph – a technique that uses vegetable inks and masters in banana paper – using recycled paper, or even silk-screening T-shirts by hand.

“Obviously ours is a small gesture,” Matteo concludes, “but it’s demonstrative of the commitment without the presumption of truly saving the planet. The truth is that becoming eco-friendly today is not a choice, but a necessity. The design industry, like many others, is adapting but not fast enough.”

GalleryCollletttivo: Apfel Brukt Booklet

GalleryCollletttivo: Still Hot in October

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima. 

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