What better way could there be to celebrate the fifth anniversary of your the foundry than to release a beautifully designed (and printed) collaborative look back at the work you’ve created so far? In Merged Contours this is exactly what type design duo, Florian Schick and Lauri Toikka have done, with the help of nine of their favourite designers, illustrators and artists.
Florian and Lauri met in 2010 while they were both working towards their master’s in type media at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. Upon graduating, they moved to Berlin and started Schick Toikka to create retail as well as custom fonts and lettering. Five years later and the pair are based between Berlin and Helsinki and are celebrating Schick Toikka’s fifth anniversary with the release of Merged Contours.
The book is divided into nine chapters, with each chapter dedicated to a different creative’s interpretation of one of Schick Toikka’s fonts. “We provided each contributor with the font files of one typeface family, and gave carte blanche,” Florian and Lauri explain. “We had some ideas about which fonts and contributors would make a good pair but mostly it was done randomly. We did not want to overthink the result before, but rather create the right conditions for serendipity.”
As a result, Merged Contours – which features the work of Pavla Nešverová, Grmmxi, Erkki Toukolehto, N.O.W Design Studio, Kekfeng Lee, The Beautiful Meme, Bureau Mirko Borsche, Maziyar Pahlevan and Deutsche & Japaner – revives the tradition of type specimens in a perfectly collaborative and contemporary way. “We have always loved classic printed type specimens of the golden age of metal type production, from manufacturers such as Barnhart Brothers & Spindler in the USA or Lettergieterij in Amsterdam,” the duo explain. “Those beautifully crafted books were filled with painstakingly chosen words, shown in a multitude of sizes and styles, tilting a very special form of dada-esque poetry.”
The publication borrows from this aesthetic, its pages packed full of examples of each font being put to use. Although these visuals vary according to the contributor, there is a visual succinctness created by the strong use of a black, white and red colour palette throughout.
Taking its name from the literal process of merging contours that sees type designers overlapping and combining shapes into one, Merged Contours also does this through its curation. “In the book,” Schick Toikka remarks, “a lot of really different work is mixed and transformed into one whole and something new.” This concept is continued and felt in every aspect of the project: even the book’s cover can be stacked and aligned with other copies to complete text in an almost jigsaw-like fashion.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.