Henrik Kubel – a2-type.co.uk
Like many type designers, London-based Dane, Henrik Kubel, has had a fascination with letterforms since childhood. Kubel studied at Denmark’s Design School and the Royal College of Art in London. He has recently released an updated version of his 1998 typeface, Battersea. Its distinctiveness reflects the 21st century fascination that type designers have for sans serif fonts.
What inspired the design of your typeface?
Battersea was very much my first attempt to draw a sans serif typeface. I had just moved to London and started my MA studies at the Royal College of Art in 1998. I began the design in mid-1998 and released it in three weights in 1999. The font was inspired by three faces: Transport Alphabet by Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir (used on all British road signs), DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung or German Institute for Standardisation, but often incorrectly expanded as Deutsche Industrie Norm or German Industry Standard) and Erik Spiekermann’s New Helvetica Meta.
What was the first character you designed and why?
I remember starting with the lowercase letters ‘a’, ‘n’, ‘o’ and ‘g’.
Is it important for a typeface to have a few distinctive characters to make it more memorable?
Yes, in this case I think it’s the ‘a’, ‘g’ and ‘u’.
What design challenges did you confront and how did you resolve them?
I remember that my biggest challenge at the time (14 years ago!) was the spacing and kerning of the font(s).
What do you see as the typeface’s ideal uses?
The typeface was drawn to be used in large point sizes, for signs, but also to work in text. I was very much interested in both sizes. Battersea was first released in three weights: Regular, Medium and Bold in 1999 by Acme Fonts in London and stayed with them until I withdrew it from the market in 2009. I completely redrew, updated and expanded the character set and added a long overdue italic style to the font (in collaboration with American type designer Jeremy Mickel). Battersea (in its new form) was re-released in 2011 and now has an advanced character set, seven weights ranging from Thin to ExtraBold plus accompanying Italics. It is also available as a web font through our web font partner WebINK.
Where did the name of the typeface come from and what is its significance?
My first home in London was in the part of the city called Battersea; it seemed a natural decision.
Why do so many type designers seem to be interested in designing new sans serif typefaces?
I am fascinated by the simplicity and impact a sans serif typeface can add to a piece of communication. It’s interesting and always a great joy to be working within the limited possibilities of this specific type category. I have drawn many sans/grotesque fonts and each time I try to find a new way of looking at this specific style of type.
Many type designers seem interested in designing new display typefaces, but are text typefaces more challenging to design?
Both text and display fonts are challenging to design; many times text faces end up as display fonts and sometimes it’s the other way around. To give an example, our recent typeface, India, would be difficult to read at a small point size, whereas our latest release Antwerp, designed as a text face, can easily be adapted to work as a display font.
From desktop magazine.