Posted in Theory, Typeface

Antwerp – Henrik Kubel / A2-Type / A2/SW/HK


Antwerp – A new typeface release from A2-Type / A2/SW/HK

In 2009 A2/SW/HK launched A2-TYPE to release and distribute over a decade’s worth of specially crafted typefaces. A2-TYPE create and release retail typefaces at regular intervals, as well as develop bespoke fonts for magazines, newspapers, brands etc. — Clients include MoMA; Design Museum, London; Wallpaper*; Royal Mail; Penguin Press UK, NYC; Phaidon Press; Faber & Faber; Tate Modern, Tate Britain and V&A Museum. In 2010 Kubel was awarded the prestigious 3-year artist and designer working grant from The Danish Art Foundation. Kubel is a visiting lecturer at Royal College of Art in London and a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale, AGI.

My typeface Antwerp is a 16th-Century typeface with contemporary proportions. The design is a free spirited amalgamation and interpretation of the all inspiring archives of type on display in the Museum Plantin-Moretus in the Belgium city Antwerp — hence the fonts name. The typeface was developed as part of Kubel’s studies at the Expert class Type design 2010 – 11 at Plantin Institute of Typography.

The concept behind the typeface was to create a contemporary family of text typefaces with historical references. The final design incorporates a large x-height and has a warm appearance on the printed page as well as on screen. The first drawings were done by hand on paper before it was developed into digital format, on screen in FontLab. The family of typefaces evolved slowly overa period of ten months and is by the opening of this exhibition in its final stage of completion. Antwerp has been designed as an OpenType font and features many number styles including old style figures (non aligning numerals) plus a large set of ligatures and fractions.

My passion and admiration for 15 and 16th century Italian, French and Dutch typefaces might shine through in Antwerp — I acknowledge that it has become an integral part of my ‘type dna’ — It’s how I design letters, fonts, alphabets and it’s also a direct translation of how I draw type by hand on paper — in other words, I have been conditioned by history!

I set out to design a typeface with a solid range of weights giving designers and art directors maximum choice (Light, Regular, Medium, SemiBold & Bold + corresponding italic styles) when typesetting books, newspapers and magazines. The importance and focus on detail in the individual glyphs are intentional and something I have spent a long time crafting. Large punctuation, slightly inclined stems, old style serifs and pronounced ink traps are all part of the underlying structure of my final font. The relatively large x-height* is a decision I made to bring my design more into the 21st century and essentially make fit with the current trends found in the design and advertising community. *It is argued that a large x-height aids legibility although no conclusive studies have been published on this subject. I have tried to incorporate my love of handwriting and the flow of my own ‘shorthand’ into my Italic font(s). Normally an Italic typeface is between 7 –15° slanted, my italic is 19° which is a feature I have been looking for when designing books and setting text myself. Since the introduction of digital type, italics have become less and less slanted and has in essence moved closer to the romans. From a technical and aesthetic point of view it’s understandable, however, in real life, when it comes to how type performs on the printed page and web as well; I call for italics with more contrast! After all since the 16th century Italic typefaces are used to high light words and sentences in text – this is what my typeface does as well as of course keeping the proportions and overall structure of the roman.

Antwerp is in essence the culmination of all my scribbles, thoughts and research done over a period of many years — I acknowledge that it would not have been conceived had I not joined the Expert class Type design course under the guidance of Frank E. Blokland.

The typeface has been designed in 5 weights with sophisticated 19° Italic styles as companion and supports extended Latin A language settings (Eastern European) — The typeface(s) are commercially available from London based type studio A2-TYPE in November 2011.

Henrik Kubel is a partner in London based design studio A2/SW/HK.

Thank you to Henrik Kubel from A2-Type for providing the images and information about this fantastic new release.




So elegant. Thanks for sharing this project!


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