Lukas Haider and Alexander Raffl’s latest collaboration Unknown is a typeface that reminds us to revisit our old notebooks
From rejected pitch to comprehensive typeface, Unknown considers the mechanically constructed and the organically grown – and a symbiosis of the two.
- Harry Bennett
- 7 April 2020
Lukas Haider began his journey into design through posters and album artworks designed for bands and producers. He then turned his “passion into a profession” by studying information design at FH Joanneum. It was after graduating and eventually settling at design studio Great that he met Alexander Raffl, who made a less conventional route into the creative industry after first studying civil engineering. Feeling the “urge to expand his proficiencies” Alex took up communication design at Designskolen Kolding, later going on to work at Great – this was not only the origin of their friendship, but also their latest collaboration; Unknown.
Unknown began as a rejected pitch exploring the visual forms of “unknown territories” that resulted in the initial phases on a fragmented typeface. The Austria-based duo took it upon themselves to complete the typeface as a personal project together; five months, a microsite, an Everpress campaign, three styles and 1,125 glyphs later they released the typeface in March of this year for free.
Addressing the aesthetic of the font, Alex explains: “These styles represent different approaches towards the same typeface,” that are “ranging from mechanically constructed to organically grown and a symbiosis of the two.” The result of which being a beautiful, happily mismatched hybrid reminiscent of brutalist architecture and Teletext – “with the occasional soft curve” Alex adds. Despite the fact “the roots of the typeface are derived from a linear grid-system, the overall appearance of each cut is still organic,” Alex explains. In doing so, this provides “each character enough freedom to have its own personality.” This injection of speculation, the considering of contrary ideas and what is found in between the two, is what makes this typeface very unique. It’s an almost uncertain, unpredictable typeface that exemplifies fore-thought and care through its intense consideration to detail and craft.
Lukas expounds that “releasing a typeface is something I had in my mind for years now, but never managed to do before,” acknowledging that Alex had the technical insight into typography to push the project forward. What excites Lukas most, however, isn’t the typeface but what the future holds for it, saying that “I was always really curious how other people will implement it into their projects. So I definitely want to achieve seeing other people using it.” In turn, he’s looking forward to being able to say “Oh look, that’s my typeface.” A beta version of the typeface was used prior to its release for German record label Tau and the release of Unknown sparked friendly collaborations with designers including David Gallo, Mátyás Czél, Daniel Kozma and Maximilian Mauracher.
What Unknown provided the team was the opportunity to make something for their own pleasure, as the typeface was “never planned as a commercial release” but instead it gave them “the possibility to learn a lot about marketing by trial and error.” Lukas explains, in a wholesome turn of events, that the project also has several unexpected positives, including “the strengthening our friendship along the way” and how “the most meaningful byproduct” that came from the process of developing the typeface was “the positive vibes from everybody that gave us a hand and helped create it.”
“Experiencing the process of picking up an old thought or scribble from a notebook,” Alex adds: “seeing it evolve into a full-grown project gave me a great sense of satisfaction,” commenting that the project “has become a constant reminder to revisit the old pages of notebooks more often.”
GalleryLukas Haider and Alexander Raffl: Unknown
About the Author
Hailing from the West Midlands, and having originally joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020, Harry is a freelance writer and designer – running his own independent practice, as well as being one-half of the Studio Ground Floor.