Since 2012, when The Designers Foundry was established by Daniel McQueen, the New Zealand-based type foundry has been at the forefront of accessible, but beautifully designed typefaces. Its clients include the likes of Apple, Netflix, Random House and Pentagram (just to name a few), while its extensive portfolio of type offers something for everyone; from Atiza Text, Lastra, Marle, Studio, and one of its most popular, Morion.
Originally released after three years of work in 2017, Morion is designed by David Einwaller, who first became interested in typography as a youngster through graffiti and skateboarding culture. His design quickly became a fan favourite in its opening two weights and its rapid public acclaim meant the type foundry never really stopped working on it. Now six years have rolled by, Morion has snowballed into something truly special. Re-released earlier this year, it’s evolved into a semi-text classical serif with a display-like nature. In its extensive rethink, Morion now includes six weights with matching italics, a revised set of glyphs, and a total reconsideration of how the typeface could perform better in print and smaller sizes. Delicately balanced between text and display type, each character has been carefully designed to provide optimum sharpness and clarity.
Going back to David’s background in type, it may come as a surprise to some of you readers that his education was, in fact, not primarily a study in type. Though he realised early on in his studies that “type would become the main tool in [his] work,” his knowledge predominantly comes down to what has been self-taught, fuelled by a sheer strength of self-initiated research. He attended as many workshops as possible, and continues to explore the history of type in his role today, still “learning as much as I can,” he goes on to tell us.
To celebrate Morion’s redesign, The Designers Type Foundry accompanied the release with an 110-page book and t-shirt, exemplifying the variety of styles through dynamic layout design. “We like to bring our typefaces to physical forms as much as possible,” Daniel tells us. “It’s nice to see them living beyond a screen.” A unique take on the traditional type specimen, the pocket-sized publication also acts as an “experiment to remove the meaning behind the written word, and instead, to focus on the visual appearance of type in a reading format.”
It asks us (the viewers) to consume only the forms, without the distraction of also having to take in the meaning of the words. The words are chosen to display the letterforms as authentically as possible, exemplifying the tone of the distinct typeface and the contrast of its varying weights. And who would’ve thought it but back in 2014, this all started as a couple of sketches for David’s first serif typeface. He explains further, “I didn’t have any real design role models and have made some very questionable design decisions, but I guess my main goal was to establish a modern serif that could work as a display and text-face at the same time.”
He started out by combining two stylistic elements in his drawings: calligraphic terminals and angular serifs, which kept him busy for the next six years. Though he was “rather insecure” about the design when it was first released in 2017, it spurred a wave of motivation to expand and improve the typeface further. “I hope people can use Morion in as many situations as possible,” David adds. “The design thrives in display uses, but it’s not begging for attention when set large.” Its heavier weights can add more contrast to text whereas its thinner weights can be used as an example of elegance. Its smaller sizes are more neutral, ideal for reading dense passages, so all in all, it’s “a very versatile typeface that can shine within modern branding, now, better than ever.”
Later this year, The Designers Foundry will celebrate its eight birthday. Set to release a handful of new type families, it will also expand on some of its existing favourites. Throughout 2020, the type foundry is also busily working away on a couple of new, and very exciting, custom typeface projects.
GalleryThe Designers Foundry: Morion
The Designers Foundry: Morion
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.