Our Favorite Typefaces of 2013

favorite fonts of 2013

This year marks another step in the typographic diversi­fi­cation we observed in our previous annual. The global spread of independent font makers and the variety of new ideas in type design continues unabated.

As evidence of that diversity, the 54 typefaces selected from 2013 were created by designers from at least 21 countries, including:

  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Lebanon
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

This new phase of globalization and democratization of the font market began in earnest about a decade ago, propelled by newly accessible digital tools, online commerce, and post-graduate education in type design. It is a sea change. For centuries, places like Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Lebanon, and New Zealand were vastly under­repre­sent­ed in a type design community that was dominated by western Europe and North America. (And this only goes for Latin-based type. The burg­eon­ing production of fonts in other scripts tells another fascinating story.) We will have much more detail about these changes in an upcoming report by Ruxandra Duru on the current state of typefounding around the world.

The diversity of the contributors to our annual is also invig­orating. This year’s writers are almost as international as the typefaces they cover. More importantly, they represent a variety of perspectives from both sides of font making and using. Type designers, print and web designers, educators, writers, historians — we can all learn from the manifold ways that people from such divergent backgrounds perceive a typeface.

In Review

Now in its eighth edition, “Our Favorite Typefaces” continues to present a good overview of the most interesting new fonts on the market. It is, however, by no means comprehensive. The list of other notable releases hints at how many other typefaces deserve attention, and custom type commissioned by clients for proprie­tary use is often overlooked. (This growing segment of the trade deserves its own feature.) As a reminder, this annual is not a compe­tition in which submitted entries are awarded by an official jury. (That format has its own drawbacks, but I think it’s still a valid one.) Instead, I invite people whose opinion I respect to write about a release from the past year that excited them. This means that the reviews are not necessarily rigorous critiques — although many contributors do offer a fairly in-depth analysis. Their opinions are mainly positive because that’s the point of the call.

This caveat acknowledges the fact that, while the “Favorites” feature will always have its own kind of value, there is also a very real need for true type reviews — in the proper sense of the term, in which type (both good and bad) is tested and appraised. With the help of some able cohorts, I intend to address that deficit soon via a new venture. Subscribe, follow, stay tuned.

“Our Favorite Typefaces of 2013” was produced with generous assistance from Chris Hamamoto, Caren Litherland, Tamye Riggs, Laura Serra, and Tânia Raposo. Huge thanks also go to the contributing writers, and to the type designers and foundries who provided samples and imagery.

This feature coincides with a Typographica font palette refresh, including Sutro Deluxe by Jim Parkinson for the nameplate, Nocturno Display by Nikola Djurek for headlines and pullquotes, and Fern (unreleased) by David Jonathan Ross of Font Bureau for text. We continue to use the durable JAF Bernini Sans by Tim Ahrens for all the small stuff. The “Type of 2013” graphic features FF Quixo (and a color I can only describe as “Sherman Peachorange”, nabbed from a little site called Fonts In Use).

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