is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
Giving back to Twitter department: earlier in the month I asked people who follow me on Twitter for recommendations for new typefaces.
What I was looking for was an alternative to the typeface Klavika, which I quite like; it’s among the very best fonts that have been released in the recent past, in my opinion. Inconveniently for me, I somewhat subjectively regard Klavika as having been ‘claimed’ by a friend of mine who uses it more consistently and more effectively than I do.
So I wanted something of my own, something similarly contemporary and similarly strong in its forms, a real workhorse of a typeface that I can call to duty during those times when Helvetica won’t do. I got back tons of replies, and I thought I’d present my favorites here for those who might find themselves on a similar hunt.
Among the many helpful replies, Stephen Coles (tweeting under the handle @typographica) also provided two helpful lists of typefaces that he maintains over at Fontshop. The first is a list of Alternatives to DIN, the estimable German typeface that is a spiritual ancestor of Klavika and many similar modern sans serif faces like the ones shown above. The second list is an excellent survey of Sans Serifs from Very Square to Fairly Square, which is entertaining on its own.
Along with the ones shown above, I might have gotten about a dozen other suggestions. Of all of them put together, I’ve narrowed the field down to two favorites.
Aside from its clean, solid forms and its somewhat adventurous sense of proportion, it’s actually not much of an accident that Section is so appealing to me. The typeface originates from Lux Typographics, one of eleven young foundries selling their type designs through a co-op called Village — which also happens to be where I first came across another favorite of mine, Apex Serif.
Finally, just the other day I came across a font of a different breed altogether: the brand new design Titillium is actually an open source project being designed by students at Urbino Accademia di Belle Arti in Italy. The project was first presented a year ago and was updated as recently as late last month; the source files for all of the fonts are freely available for anyone to download and manipulate.
It bewilders me a little how practical it would be to manage the design of a typeface through open source means, but it’s hard to argue with the results. Titillium is gorgeous. Best of all is it’s free; it’s not just the development files that are available, but early ‘builds’ can be downloaded and used right now.
Thanks to everyone for their help with this search, especially to Matthew Anderson, who turned me onto this terrific open source project that I would have otherwise missed entirely. See, Twitter is good for something useful after all.+