Dinamo to Grilli Type: this type colour chart lets you compare and contrast the best of Swiss fonts

Like a “gateway” to understanding Swiss-style type creation, the new Typologie from Recto Verso is built to take designers out of their typographic comfort zone.

13 June 2022

While design books delineating a specific style or studio can, of course, offer ample inspiration for a project, very few publications can simultaneously serve as an actual working tool for creatives. Or at least, not in the same fun way as Parisian design studio Recto Verso achieves with its new “atypical object”, Typologie. Functioning like a Dulux colour chart you might use to peruse spare room paint pairings, Typologie is both a catalogue and creative tool allowing readers to test out font combinations, for example, for title and body text. While the first edition of the publication was dedicated to French foundries, this time Recto Verso has gathered 80 contemporary typefaces from Switzerland, featuring 18 new foundries, including It’s Nice That favourites Grilli Type and Dinamo.

Readers diving into Typologie can expect to find fonts handily classified into five categories – serif, sans serif, display, monospace and expressive – allowing for fluid navigation of the chart and easy swatch comparisons. They’ll also find a fairly extensive coverage of the Swiss type tradition in general. Aiming to provide an “overview of the type design of a country” with each release, explains Recto Verso’s Pierre-Yann Lallaizon, the second edition of Typologie features a preface by Swiss design writer Roger Chatelain, and a cover design by Swiss artist Rylsee. “Working on Swiss fonts is also a way to break the image of the ‘international typographic style’ and to show the new visual researches of Swiss foundries, beyond Helvetica and Frutiger,” adds Pierre-Yann.


Recto Verso: Typologie Swiss Foundries Edition (Copyright © Recto Verso, 2022)

This idea of expanding well-worn typographic paths sits at the core of the enterprise. On the idea behind the publication, Pierre-Yann states: “Despite a growing number of digital foundries, it’s always easier to work with familiar fonts. However, by doing so, graphic designers miss out on a multitude of original characters created by type foundries and type designers, each of whom has their own approach of type lettering.” To illustrate the “plurality” of type design, Recto Verso features the following foundries in the new Typologie:

Binnenland, Büro Destruct, Dinamo, ECAL Typefaces, Extraset, Fatype, Out of the Dark, Typefaces, FSdesign / Atoxina, Grilli Type, Letterwerk, Luzi Type, Milieu Grotesque, Nootype, Nouvelle noire, Optimo, Razzia Type, Serpentype, Swiss Typefaces.

Pierre-Yann wants a similarly expansive view to be applied to strict type categories: “[In Typologie, typefaces are no longer delimited only by the shape of their serifs, but by the use that can be made of them. Serifs can be used for both regular text and branding; displays for a poster title or an app title; sans serifs for a paragraph or packaging. Combined with a set of tags and keywords (“modular”, “fantasy”, “geometric”, “titling”, etc.), typefaces are transformed into visual tools left to the free appreciation of everyone.”

Looking forward, Recto Verso hopes to continue to give us new ways to look at type, turning the Typologie collection into a world tour of contemporary typography. For now, the Swiss Foundries edition is available on Kickstarter.

GalleryRecto Verso: Typologie Swiss Foundries Edition (Copyright © Recto Verso, 2022)

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Recto Verso: Typologie Swiss Foundries Edition (Copyright © Recto Verso, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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