Type foundry Fontsmith has launched FS Industrie, a new adaptive type system designed around five different widths and seven different weights, creating a total of 70 different variants (including italics).
Fontsmith’s type design director Phil Garnham provides some context behind the new release: “We are on the cusp of a new age in digital typeface design where the ability to vary a font’s weight and width axis offers limitless possibilities to graphic designers within any given space.”
Much has been said about truly variable fonts since the idea was first introduced in September 2016. Yet fast-forward 18 months and the technology is still in development. As well as new fonts, designers will need rendering engines, browsers and design tools, all working together to deliver on the promise offered by variable type. Until that happens, FS Industrie shows us the future.
Inspired by classic German fonts from the 1930s, FS Industrie has a precise and direct feel but, in typical Fontsmith style, without ever sacrificing its humanity. Designed by Phil Garnham and Fernando Mello, it has a classic sense of functional utility delivered with a progressive view of where type is heading.
Crucially in the design of FS Industrie, each width and weight is drawn by hand. Variable type requires both a systematic approach and a focus on craft. Terminals that are closed in the condensed glyphs open out in the wider widths. The design adapts as it moves across the system, ensuring each variant can play to its unique strengths while also pairing perfectly with its siblings.
FS Industrie is an ambitious typeface, and Fontsmith wanted to highlight its release through a similarly ambitious launch campaign, a task they handed to UK/Canada-based design studio and long term collaborator Believe in®.
The variable nature of FS Industrie lies at the heart of the campaign idea. This led to 1000 unique type specimens being created, each one personal to its recipient. They feature content that was generated through an online survey completed by over 400 creative professionals. Each cover has the recipient’s name laser cut into it using a ‘punched card’ alphabet, with the apertures revealing a limited edition letterpress print designed by one of 10 studios from around the world.
Believe in’s creative director Blair Thomson said: “The idea behind the campaign connects our industrial past to our technological future, combining traditional and more recent production methods, and pushing the limits of what’s currently possible. So many type specimens are designed to be seen but not read, we wanted to create something more interesting and engaging for our audience.”