Daniel Stuhlpfarrer melds phonetics, architecture, and iconography in his variable typefaces
- Alif Ibrahim
- 17 October 2019
Daniel Stuhlpfarrer, a Berlin-based graphic and type designer, was never fully satisfied with only the visual component of design. Before turning to graphic design, Daniel worked as an information technician, focusing on “digital processes, coding and software solutions,” probably an early contributor to his technical interests today. Currently attending Fons Hickmann’s graphic design class for his final year of his master’s at UdK Berlin, Daniel looks to combine his technical knowledge with his visual work, turning to type design. “I deal a lot with the technical possibilities and applications of variable fonts,” Daniel tells It’s Nice That.
“The projects I love the most are those where I can combine my enthusiasm for type design, graphic design, and the accompanying technical components,” he explains. To complement this, Daniel often goes about his design projects with a pared-down approach, choosing to limit extraneous visual elements so that the focus is on his custom-made fonts.
His passion for typography is especially apparent when he discusses incorporating the typefaces he develops into projects. “If I develop smaller to larger custom typefaces and can then work with them directly, the projects quickly become very exciting. Both elements become stronger, because, in the application of a font, you can see where there might be some work to be done and the other way around, which glyphs are still needed to enhance the appearance,” Daniel says.
One example of this is the Wabla typeface that he initially developed as a display font for a book about self-reflection. In designing the book, titled Reflexikon due to its lexicon-like structure Daniel “had the idea to reinterpret initials from past centuries and create something more ‘modern’,” after which the first shapes of Wabla were created. He then dedicated himself to the design of the entire typeface, turning it into a variable font to be able to pair the initial display font with other text fonts. “The reason for this is the exact weight interpolation,” Daniel says about the conversion into a variable font. “The focus is on the interpolation itself, the letters and the kerning remain in place and only the inner paths change so that the weight is adjustable.”
Another project, a typeface for an identity design for an Austrian friend who’s ended up in Berlin, takes its initial approach from the vocalisation of his friend’s dialect, that “stretches vowels or entire words enormously.” What results is Innschbruck, a modular typeface that replicates this behaviour, stretching single letters and words. Daniel does this by creating two masters: an Ultra Condensed and an Ultra Expanded version, and then interpolating the character widths between the two to visualise the unique phonetics.
Currently, Daniel is working on a typeface called Kritik, for the 11th issue of Protocol magazine that is focused on criticism in architecture. “The conceptual and practical work on a magazine in combination with working on the typeface is a lot of fun and is definitely a direction I would like to keep for the future,” he says. Attempting to reflect the magazine’s subject and theme, he designed a typeface with angular characters but, “in its basic form, ‘round’ and ‘soft’,” adding on elements in addition to an already existing scaffold, a process akin to constructing a building. His first variable font, Melange, features striking ink traps, and is already in use across a number of publications. In these projects, it’s clear that Daniel’s affinity for a conceptual approach to creating variable typefaces is where he’ll find his home in the near future.
About the Author
Alif joined It's Nice That as an editorial assistant from September to December 2019 after completing an MA in Digital Media at Goldsmiths, University of London. His writing often looks at the impact of art and technology on society.