A Frankfurt food stand serves up the provoking question: are we too dumb for smart fonts?
Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Jan 7th, 2013. Artwork published in
11 Comments on “Traffic Snack”
Doesn’t matter if they didn’t use the features, it still looks really great. Fantastic type choice by the designer.
Warum steht denn da auch “leckere Belege”? Sagt man das in Frankfurt so? Würde es nicht Beläge (von Belag) heißen?
I agree with Miles, the type choice and execution are superb. The irregular serif makes a nice pairing with Sable, in my opinion. The language alternates, being a fantastic tool, are at last no more than a fine detail. In some cases that detail may deserve its importance, but not in all. Since it’s true that the devil is in the detail, it doesn’t invalidate the success of the design. On the other side, I think these cultural alternates can be useful when composing book covers or other elements requiring display size.
With – some – users being ignorant or unaware of advanced functions, it is crucial that the default works in an acceptable way. Well-designed fonts don’t rely on the availability of special features. The Studio Lettering fonts are exquisite and look superb even without contextual alternates.
What I find worrying is the fact that the typeface can take on completely different forms, without the user having a hand in the matter. The cultural alternates are triggered via the language attribute. It is one thing if a user bothers to actively dive into an OpenType setting – or not. It is quite another when letters look drastically different, depending on whether the language is accidentally set to English, German, or ‘None’.
Don’t get me wrong, the OT programming in Studio Lettering is mind-blowing. But if you don’t know what is going on and why, it leaves you scratching your head.
Julian – yes, that’s a typo.
Would be interesting to hear the designer’s take on the matter. It may well be that s/he was oblivious to the choices. Or it might just as well have been a „client from hell“ thing, who knows? But I’m curious where your information – or rather the font designer’s – stems from, that the letter p is usually not closed in German handwriting? It is certainly not what I learned in school. So while I would use the German M or A for the capital letters, I’d prefer the US version of the lowercase p, since that’s how I was taught to write it.
Kiki, now I am curious where (i.e. in which Bundesland) and when you went to school. The three most commonly used cursive script models all feature this “open p”. They have been digitized as FF Schulschrift A, B and C, see this list. Maybe you are referring to non-cursive and unconnected “print” letters?
It certainly would be incorrect to claim that a “closed p” were unfamiliar to Germans – it is rather the other way round: an “open p” may look a little weird to Americans.
Florian, I started school in the early 70's in Hessen. And we were taught to close the p in „Schreibschrift“ mode. Apparently I was pretty good at it, since my teacher would remark on my pretty handwriting on my report card. She definitely wouldn’t say that today … the computer has wreaked havoc with my handwriting, even though I use it every day (I’m an illustrator/designer). :)
I can report that Hessen in the ’80s was still closed-p-land.
Kiki, Indra, thanks for your input! Alright, then (some of) the Hessians must have been taught an undocumented Ausgangsschrift variant with a closed p. You live and learn.
Hi, I am the designer of the TRAFFIC SNACK corporate design. Thanks for the great post and the positive comments. I’d like to give some insights about the use of American and German lettering at TRAFFIC SNACK.
Our objective was to create a unique, emotional and somewhat nostalgic image for TRAFFIC SNACK to slow down rushing public and make them buy food. While all large and major signage was created by our studio, in order to make processes more efficient, we handed over the production of the small price markings to TRAFFIC SNACK office workers – and consciously gave them a bit out of control. This also meant leaving familiar Adobe terrain and setting up in Microsoft Powerpoint, a program not known by all for its joy of use. We have realised that Powerpoint pulls the American rather than German shapes but accepted it (as one more Microsoft dilemma to live with). Because of the diverse background of the people targeted (national, international) a mixed presentation in typography detail to me seems acceptable. I don’t believe that in the globalised world of today it is relevant that a German in the seventies learnt to write a “p” differently to an American in the seventies. And the truth is: we have already seen it a huge accomplishment that TRAFFIC SNACK, being very open and aware of the role of design, purchased the font sets AND used them. Instead of using Arial in weird colors.
I do agree that using German and American shapes in the communication of one single store can be regarded as not 100 % consequent design. But then again the company has an english name with an english slogan with German communication. The inconsequence in letter shapes is consequent from that perspective if you will … :-) Or is it bad design? What do you think? With this I hope to open a discussion.
Studio Sable is a great choice and I think the diversity of mixed shapes in Traffic Snack actually adds to the liveliness. The odd quote is not an OpenType problem :)