Karlo – A Superfamily by Sofie Beier
Gestalten's new font Karlo is a superfamily of several branches that all originate from the same lightweight skeleton. The lightweights are based on a pen stroke of an even width. In the heavier weights, the family evolves in two directions, both of which are inspired by the writings of Edward Johnston, one of the fathers of modern calligraphy. Its versatile options make Karlo suitable for both running text and display purposes. In the interview below, Karlo's designer Sofia Beier talks to us about her approach to type design and inspiration for Karlo:
What turns you on creatively?
I prefer to find inspiration outside of the contemporary type design world and draw on historical typefaces and traditions instead. I find it interesting to take a known style and reinterpret it with a modern approach.
What is your favorite work of design or art?
I am a big fan of the street signage for the Danish municipality of Gentofte that was developed by designer and architect Knud V. Engelhardt around 1926-7. The typeface and signs were created together, making them a lovely piece of high quality, straightforward, everyday design.
Which aesthetics, forms, or colors do you hate?
I like to believe that there are no ugly forms or colors, and that it all comes down to how they are implemented with content. That being said, I really hate orange and green put together.
What if there was no typography or design on earth. What would you do then?
I make a living out of writing about type, making type, and teaching type. In my writings, I am driven by an interest in how the eye perceives typefaces in various reading situations. If I had to choose a different topic, it would probably – in some way or another – relate to human behavior and the analysis of how we react to different kinds of stimulation. Whether this stimulation is typeface style, exercise, love, or anything else, the way we respond to it will always be interesting to understand.
Where did you find the inspiration for Karlo?
Karlo is a super family of several branches, originating from the same lightweight skeleton. The lightweights are based on a pen of an even stroke-width. Inspired by the writings of calligrapher Edward Johnston, the family evolves in two directions in the heavier weights. Johnston demonstrated that the broad nib pen can produce different writing styles. Following this, one heavy weight has a humanistic low stroke contrast (KarloSerifBold and KarloSansBold), and another has a high stroke contrast of vertical axis with references to the 19th century jobbing typefaces (KarloOpen). The latter is inspired by Johnston’s demonstration of the broad nib pen, where he suggested fastening two pencils together. With each pencil representing an edge of the pen, it becomes more evident how the pen works in writing.
Where does the name come from?
In Denmark, a guy named Karlo would typically be an old fellow with a slick hairstyle that makes an effort with his appearance. He is a handyman who can do a bit of this and that when needed. He is a happy-go-lucky kind of guy that takes one day at a time. To me, the typeface family has some of the same qualities.
Where do you see the creative potential of Karlo?
The friendly informal look makes KarloSans and KarloSerif usable for both running text and for display sizes. KarloOpen, on the other hand, is solely designed for display purposes and showing few words at a time.
This font superfamily comes in three versions. Click here to test and purchase Karlo Open, Karlo Sans, and Karlo Serif.
And don't forget to sign up to receive a weekly digest of design, architecture, and visual culture!