Nolan Paparelli’s Everett typeface is back, but this time it’s matured and refined
It’s been four years since we last heard from the Swiss graphic designer, and in this time he’s been fine-tuning his functional, fluid font family.
- Ayla Angelos
- 3 December 2020
After graduating from ECAL in 2015, Swiss graphic designer Nolan Paparelli got to work on his Everett typeface – a new font family that arrived in all its symmetrical, grotesque glory. Now, four years on, Nolan has returned to It’s Nice That once again with an even more mature and updated version. It has been put to use in a whole host of projects, including editorial design for Garage magazine by Meiré und Meiré, an identity for Hong Kong University’s Department of Architecture designed by Studio Klaus Stille, Brad Downey’s Slapstick Formalism by Matthias Hübner (Possible Books), plus many more.
Initially inspired by the work of American photographer Daniel Everett, the font grew into something increasingly personal as Nolan started to include his own take on the grotesque genre. “Everett is a contemporary, versatile grotesque typeface,” he says, “featuring an organic drawing and a particular digital flavour.”
Everett has been in the works for quite some time now – years, in fact. What first started out as a project during school, soon developed into a diploma and, even later, an independent piece of work in its own right. “When I was drawing the first version of the typeface,” he adds, “I reused the uppercase from another project as I needed to show something to the teachers quickly.” In the process of doing so, his shapes were cut and an idea quickly blossomed: “this sparked an incredible tension.” This was a method learned from Ian Party, an ex-type design teacher at ECAL and his mentor; he helped Nolan gain the confidence to dive deeper into these particular shapes, thus taking the project just that little bit further.
“Back then,” he continues, “nobody was doing brutalist typefaces like this. Now it’s really becoming a trend.” Popularity aside, the Everett has certain longevity to it. Not just because it’s quite literally taken years to evolve, but more for the fact that it’s versatile and can be applied to any project with timelessness – an element that modern, trendy typefaces tend to lack. Upon reflection, Nolan notes how the drawing and designs became more refined and matured over the years. “Shapes were corrected, fine-tuned, the overall aesthetics became clearer, and weights were added, proportions got wider,” he says. “It’s an organic process where you constantly question your decisions and the identity of the typeface until you are absolutely certain of its final form.”
GalleryBrad Downey Slapstick Formalism by Matthias Hübner, Possible Books. (Copyright © Possible Books, 2018)
As a whole, Nolan feels that good type design takes time, and it’s often that designers will underestimate this aspect of the development. “Today’s tools make the process naturally much quicker, but I think that a typeface is only good when there’s a lot of thought, concept and work into it,” he says, noting how he thinks that type designers should think and investigate more before diving into the work of a typeface. Here are some questions he hopes they will consider: “Has it been done already? Which fonts share similar ideas? Does it bring something new, unexpected?”
Although tending to avoid any trends or pastiche, Nolan likes the idea of re-appropriation very much. So much, actually, that it plays an important role in his work. “I enjoy seeing my fonts being used in the wild and I often collect or repost works from others, as means of inspiration,” he says. When “good designers” and studios use his fonts in “beautiful ways”, that’s when Nolan feels like he’s really become part of something, “even though I didn’t really do anything design-wise.” In this sense, Nolan’s thoughts on re-appropriation comes heavily linked with aesthetics, taste and curation, especially since the dawn of the trend ‘fonts in use’.
Now that the Everett has made its resurgence, what’s next for Nolan? Well, his future plans will steer towards other type design projects which have been “sleeping” in his folders. He’s also currently reworking his serif typeface Ghost, “which feels like a big and fresh rupture after Everett.” Otherwise he’s partnering with a Swiss designer for an upcoming foundry, set to launch in March 2021, where Everett will be officially launched. But really, is this the final chapter for Everett? We might never know, not least for another four years.
About the Author
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.