Hyphen Press

Ludwig

This new typeface designed by Fred Smeijers has just been released by OurType. As its name promises, it is an echt-German production: recalling the early-nineteenth-century Grotesk letter.

While still working on it Fred described Ludwig as a sanserif partner to his Arnhem typeface, and it is that: the two designs have the same heights (and depths) in their characters and have compatible weights. Yet Ludwig is not at all a simple stylistic companion to Arnhem: it doesn’t share letter-structures and shapes with it. Not for the first time, Fred Smeijers has done something different. What we have here is a full-blooded, strongly flavoured design, which will have a life of its own, as well as in combination with Arnhem.

First reactions from some colleagues find the taste of Ludwig pretty strange, and say that it is badly or too widely spaced. Apart from the need to judge a printing-typeface on printed (and reasonably well set) examples – which are hardly available yet – I suspect that these comments reflect the sense of stylistic surprise that the letterforms offer to anyone (which is all of us) brought up on a diet of mid- and late-twentieth-century sanserif forms.

Actually Ludwig reminds me in some essential ways of Quadraat, the typeface with which Fred sprung into serious design action. What do they have in common? A dive into a less cultivated patch of letter-history, emerging with something of strong character – anything but bland – and which forms lines of text that read really well, I think just because some of the letterforms are unexpected.

In a pre-release version Ludwig makes an appearance on the packet and booklet of our first CD and in a laser-printed leaflet for Hyphen Press Music. Good detail photos of these can be seen on the OurType website. Now that the typeface has been finished and is available in a full range of weights, look out for more use of it in these parts.

Robin Kinross / 2009.03.25