Designer: Freda Sack
Freda Sack is a London-based type designer, consultant and educator, who has worked for Letraset International and Typographic Systems International. She co-founded The Foundry with David Quay. The Foundry’s latest typeface, Foundry Origin aims to become a modern classic.
What inspired the design of Foundry Origin?
When designing a new typeface, we look for a design that fills a style gap in our typeface library. We are fans of early block serifs, but as we began with the serif shapes we decided we wanted to achieve more elegance and refinement. It also coincided with the British Library approaching us with the request for a new serif font primarily for text use to support their existing sans. We allowed them to try the beta versions of Foundry Origin and the feedback was useful and also helped us formulate a definitive set of weights.
What was the first character you designed and why?
Typefaces never start off as just one character; usually they start as a word sketch because a typeface is all about how characters work together. For Foundry Origin, the concept was in fact the ‘serif’ and laying down the parameters for the regular weight ‘l’, ‘h’, ‘n’, ‘o’, then ‘p’, ‘d’, ‘b’ and ‘q’ for descenders and the proportions of x-height to cap height. Characters with diagonal stems come next and, once satisfied with the basics, you get to play with characters like lower case ‘a’ and ‘g’.
Is it important for a typeface to have distinctive characters to make it memorable?
We believe that the typeface as a whole should have a ‘distinctive perfume’. If the overall concept of the design is working successfully and all the characters sit well together, there is no need for quirkiness to make something look different.
What design challenges did you confront and how did you resolve them?
Establishing the serif shape, weight and length, together with the overall shaping that runs through every character. This concept stage is the most crucial part of the design – get this right and everything else follows.
Where did the name of the typeface come from and what is its significance?
The working name for Foundry Origin was NewStyle, as a departure from Sans. We have lists of names we like and are conscious of their meanings and how they might sound to non-English speakers. Name ideas for Foundry Origin derived from the meaning of the word ‘origin’: original, definitive, essence.
Why are type designers interested in designing new sans serif typefaces?
Designing a sans serif is the ultimate challenge for a type designer and to design a good pure sans (that says something different) without resorting to quirkiness is difficult. We all want to design the next sans classic.
Are text typefaces more challenging to design than display typefaces?
A text typeface is certainly more challenging, especially now with OpenType there is the
possibility of almost unlimited numbers of characters. Text design requires that we pay attention to how the font looks in blocks of text: the texture or overall colour and restrictions of spacing and kerning. Display type usually requires more personality and, in many cases, optimum spacing for larger scale use. With display faces, there are often one or two weights only, while text use requires formulating a more definitive set of weights.
From desktop magazine.