The Novo Family

or the anthropormorphization of a typeface...


Is this tradition?

Most typeface-families can be a rather dull show. The variations between the different members and weights are most of the time very limited. In a historical perspective, it took centuries, to give every typeface his own real Italic and Bold version, a few centuries later the idea of serif and non-serif within one typeface-design was introduced. In a traditional / modernist way typefamilies, like Helvetica or Univers, are variations between thick and thin and roman and italic. A few exceptions there, typefamilies are predictable series and variations of the basic shapes. Today it is time to reconsider the concept of family as a serie of typefaces. It is time to go a bit further. What will be the next step? Novo Typo will challenge the idea of what a type family could look like and how it should behave.

Is this real science?
Organisms can give certain characteristics to their offspring. Because of mutations and recombinations new characteristics will arise. This is a natural, but also, cultural process. All organisms will develop or generate into new beings. There is no direction or goal, this evolution is constant state of change. The Chech monk Gregor Mendel developed the first ideas about this theory. He used peas to show when different species are crossed some characteristics are dominant and other are recessive. For example, he crossed a green pea (dominant) with a yellow pea (recessive), the results were peas which were for 75 percent green. In his study he examined 7 different characteristics of a pea plant, every plant carries one of these factors which determines the characteristics. In his theory he developed the basics for what we now call the gen-theory.

Is this real life?
If we take a look at real-life families we see a much more vivid representation of diversity. The possibilities of variaty, which the structure of a family can give to his individual members, are almost unlimited. A DNA structure of a family will give every individual member some resemblance. Within this resemblance every member can have his (of her) own life with their own characteristics. If you compare a typographic family, for example, with a family in real life. Where do we see a nice father or mother? Where is your lovely grandmother? Where is your criminal nephew? And where is your friendly aunt? What happened to the adopted niece from China or with your favorite uncle who always drinks too much? Where are the relatives who immigrated to different countries in the world? All these members are real, are part of the same family but all have their own characteristics. As individuals they are all related because they carry the same name and origin.
Can this be a metaphor for a typeface-family?
Anthropomorhism means giving human characteristics, behavior or motivation to nonhuman things, Novo Typo will anthropomorphize the characters in a typeface..

Is this real typography?
If we consider a typeface as a living organism; typefaces will constantly change, develop, generate or adjust themself to new forms with different characteristics. Let us take take seven different and contrary characteristics of a typeface and use them as DNA ingredients for a new family structure. Some of these design characteristics are dominant and other are recessive. With these ingredients we can create a new typefamily. A real family as in real life...

Is this Novo Family?
By developing this concept for a new typefamily we created a grid which we could follow when designing the chacters. The grid functions as a DNA / metric structure for the the different characters (*image of grid). This grid, together with this approach is a concept for different combinations of typedesign characteristics. The family aims no direction or goal. The process does not lead to a destination. The development of the designs are an ongoing progress. Because of this process the members can have all different characteristics, from extremly legibly to an almost abstract typeface. This is the birth of a new superfamily.
We like to introduce individual characteristics to different members of one typefamily. The characters of these typefaces will reflect the characteristics of their character. The Novo family can be nice or mean, polite or rude, bright or dumb, slim or thick, white or black, broad or narrow, modern or classic, A or B, high or low, and everything in between... They are what you want them to be. Forever... always... yours..

This concept can be considered as an open invitation to become a familymember. Who want's to have a relationship with the Novo Family? Join our DNA, we are very open minded and like the influence from abroad. The family will love you...

The Novo Family is designed by:

Mark van Wageningen (born in 1969) is a Dutch (typo)graphic designer based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He is the designer of a number of typefaces (Gagarin Family, Plakaty, Cornelia, Theo, Lucien, Therese, Louis). His fonts were published by Linotype (Cerny, Laika, Sjablony) and are for sale at Myfonts and You Work For Them. He is the founder of Novo Typo typefoundry.

Rasmus Lund Mathisen is a type designer, born 1983, and a Master student in Typography & Visual Communications at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation (KADK) in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is temporarily based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, designing type in a collaboration with Mark van Wageningen at Novo Typo.