Order, the Brooklyn-based design studio arguably best known for its branding work for Kickstarter and MoMA, has today announced the launch of Order Type Foundry (or OTF for short). The launch coincides with the release of two new typefaces. OTF, designed and conceptualised by Emily Klaebe and Jesse Reed of Order, aims to be a distributor for emerging type designers, focusing on all things experimental, practical and research-based. These motivations follow in the footsteps of Order’s design approach and the typefaces are released in the hope of serving functional purposes with finely detailed precision. The two new type families, Pastiche Grotesque and Plebeian, are designed by Benjamin Tuttle, a Brooklyn-based designer.
Pastiche Grotesque is what the studio calls “type design fanfiction,” taking its cues from late 19th-century Gothics through the lens of mid-century neo-grotesque typography. According the the studio, its aim is to conceptualise what a neo-grotesque might look like if “lower contrast forefathers like Akzidenz or Venus didn’t exist”. The neo-grotesque genre is represented by fonts like Helvetica, AG Book or Unica (finally, some names those of us who aren’t true type obsessives might recognise), so Order wanted to imagine how they might change if they retained the higher contrast found in early gothics derived from Clarendon and Egyptienne typefaces.
The process of this typeface began in 2019, when Tuttle digitised the 1898 sans serif by Nicholas J. Werner, Gothic No. 8, otherwise known as Standard Gothic or, later, Gothic No. 578. As far as Tuttle was aware, there had been no digital versions of this typeface. The type designer was fascinated by how the typeface seemed to merge genres, which sent him further down the rabbit hole exploring the origins of the Gothic No. 578. This led him to an “obsession,” he says, with other higher-contrast “oddities” found in type catalogues during the later 1800s. It was the incongruity of these typefaces that was the inception point for Pastiche Grotesque. “A fusion of cherry-picked qualities from a wide amount of historical sources,” says Tuttle, results in “a cohesive visual language” for Order’s first new typeface.
Meanwhile, Plebeian is an experimental sans serif typeface, according to the studio, that tries to highlight the “modularity” found in Latin letterforms – modularity being a measurement that shows how replaceable the components or modules of a system are. The studio based Plebian on the idea of the “letter model” as described by Frank E. Blokland, who teaches type design at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. The typeface is built with the aim of breaking down curves into individual strokes, and treating them as if drawn with a fat-nibbed marker. The result is chunky and “brutish,” says the studio, at large sizes, but OTF also thinks this makes for an enjoyable reading experience at small sizes on account of the squareness of its bowls and the thick and thin contrast.
The initial idea for Plebeian came to Tuttle whilst he was volunteering as a teaching assistant to Hannes Famira and his Type@Cooper Extended Program class, where students were being taught how to use Blokland’s “letter model” and its modular framework in order to build a majority of the Latin lowercase alphabet. Tuttle then imagined a typeface which could preserve individual segments of the letter model and made no attempt to smooth out the “sharp shoulders” of letters like ‘n,’ ‘m’ and ‘h’. “From there,” says the designer, “the rest of the project became a balancing act between modularity and readability.”
GalleryOrder Type Foundry: Plebian (Copyright © Order Type Foundry, 2021)
GalleryOrder Type Foundry: Pastiche Grotesque (Copyright © Order Type Foundry, 2021)
Order Type Foundry: Pastiche Grotesque (Copyright © Order Type Foundry, 2021)
About the Author
Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.