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Nam’s Sushi & Asia Imbiss

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Nov 22nd, 2018. Artwork published in
circa 2016
.
    Nam’s Sushi & Asia Imbiss
    Photo: Florian Hardwig. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    The New York Times just published a highly recommendable and richly illustrated article about “The Mystery Font That Took Over New York”. Art director (and Fonts In Use contributor) Rumsey Taylor pursues the question “how […] Choc, a quirky calligraphic typeface drawn by a French graphic designer in the 1950s, end[ed] up on storefronts everywhere”. Taylor noticed that Roger Excoffon’s energetic bold script is particularly popular with Asian restaurants.

    This could have to do with what Choc evokes. For some it bears a resemblance to the calligraphic forms of Asian writing systems. […] And just as pizzerias favor color schemes that recall the Italian flag, or how the names of Irish pubs rely on Gaelic-looking letters, Choc has come to signify Asia. […]

    There’s no denying that Choc has become a typographical shorthand for Asian-themed restaurants. Imagine a sushi bar adorned in Helvetica, and it may not seem as authentic, or as appetizing.

    “Having been used for a particular purpose,” said Mr. Frere-Jones, referring to the contemporary applications of Excoffon’s typefaces, “it starts to take on a bit of that association, which encourages that association to be repeated, which just makes it stronger.”

    I have nothing to add to this spot-on observation of the mechanisms that impact vernacular font use, except maybe that the phenomenon is not limited to New York. Shown here is a snapshot from Munich, Germany. Nam’s Sushi & Asia Imbiss pairs Choc with another typeface created by Excoffon, namely Banco, which, according to Taylor, “can justly be described as ‘shouty,’ composed entirely of letters that resemble exclamation marks.”

    Typefaces

    • Choc
    • Banco

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