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Gestalten is proud to announce the release of the first part of the font family, Malaussène-Translation, which includes four weights. The second and third parts of the family, Malaussène-Expansion and Malaussène-Sans, will be released by Gestalten Fonts later in 2011.
In 2004, Alejandro Lo… read more
In 2004, Alejandro Lo Celso gave a workshop about type design in my school. The characters we drew during these two weeks were so clumsy they make me laugh today, but I can remember being so enthusiastic about this discovery that I couldn’t stop working on it. During the summer holiday, I designed some extra fonts for the two families we had created, Pixat and Vampyr. It was really good training in FontLab. Alejandro came back in 2006 for a new workshop, which became a professional project in collaboration with Toulouse’s city council (Mairie de Toulouse). We designed Garonne, a type system which became the official type for Toulouse’s corporate identity. It was my first professional experience in type design and I liked it very much. I liked the way we worked, I liked the shapes we designed, and I liked the idea of designing type for a public institution.
Can you tell us about the font, the concept (idea) and its background?
Since Malaussène is the first typeface I've completely designed myself, it’s a mix of several ideas and wishes. First, I was heavily influenced by TypeCooker, Erik van Blokland's exercise. I thought of a font as a recipe where the ingredients are the contrast, the width, the height, the weight, etc. Second, I explored the concept of alternative scripts. If we consider that bold and italic are two conventional alternative scripts, what others solutions could I draw? I wanted to design more than one romain in my family. Then I explored the concept of family in type design: how do I decide that two fonts are similar enough to be part of the same family, or different enough to build an interesting and relevant duo?
Is there any historical background, which you see Malaussène is related to or do you free from any kind of relation and just followed your intention?
Take this work "playground" and add the influence of my school, and you will get Malaussène. In the end, Malaussène is an illustration of Gerrit Noordzij’s theory about contrast. He distinguishes in The Stroke (1985), two kinds of contrast, coming from calligraphy: the translation contrast, coming out of the use of a broad nib pen, and the expansion contrast, coming out of the use of a pointed pen. He also evokes a third kind of contrast, which is actually the absence of contrast. I decided to base my work on this system. So I drew three romains: the first with a translation contrast, the second with an expansion contrast, and the third with the minimum of contrast I could get. And I decided to relate this last one to the shapes you get everyday when writing your shopping list or a letter to your grandmother. Then the rest of the family started to emerge.
How would you describe the character or creative potential of your typeface?
Malaussène offers three text-faces that can be used independently, and also be combined, since they are based on the same proportions. That’s to say you get three different rythms, which can, for example, help you to create a hierarchy in a book printed in several languages. These three sub-families can also easlily be used within a corporate identity. All 12 weights of Malausséne contain European accented characters.
Do you think there's a specific look to the font?
I never thought about it until my teacher pointed out to me that my font looked typically French. I don't know what a typical "French" typeface means, but I guess I created it. Then my fellow type designers said that the characters also looked "so French," so I guess Malausséne will help you look French!
Where does the name of the font come from?
It comes from one of my favorite books, La Saga Malausséne, by Daniel Pennac. It's sort of a comedy but really it's just a classic comedic novel where the main character, Malausséne, goes through a lot of trials and tribulations.
There are three different families, but they also have a lot in common. What was the intention to merge them into one big family?
It actually happened the other way round: I didn’t have three families that I merged, I had just one, in which I designed several romains. They each demanded an italic companion. Then they demanded a display version, and then a bold companion! When I decided to base my design on Gerrit Noordzij’s writings, I named the sub-families after the contrast to which they were related. Malaussène is a system of brothers and sisters with a clera familial resemblance, but can live on their own at the same time.
All three families have a certain display weight. What was the idea behind those extraordinary weights in each family?
It’s the same idea of independance and autonomy I mentioned earlier, but pushed to its boundaries. Those display weights come from the idea that each sub-family, even if based on the common Malaussène proportions, develops its own shapes. The display weights push this a particular flavor of each to its extreme. And to be completely honest? I designed display weights for Malaussène just because it’s so much fun to draw crazy shapes!
How do you decide to develop a new typeface? How does a typeface start to emerge for you? What triggers it or are you always addressing a particular design problem?
To me, a project for a typeface starts to be promising when it combines shapes I like and a particular interest for the user, like adapting to a particular kind of communication tool. Then, if I manage to keep this double impression on a dozen of signs, it may work!