The Fonts In Use Collection
By the Numbers
Fonts In Use just turned three. That seems young, but it's something like a teenager in internet years, right? Regardless, the more significant milestone came in mid-2012 when we launched the Collection, opening the archive to public submissions. Since then, we've experienced a growth spurt: the site now documents and discusses* over 3,200 designs using at least one of over 1,700 typeface families from hundreds of foundries. (*I use the present tense because Fonts In Use is a living archive — one in which entries of any age are easily accessible, cross-referenced, and with comment threads that are always open for new insights and discussion.)
Ok, numbers are nice, but what thrills us most about the new platform is what it can do. Over the last few months we improved our typeface pages, adding high-resolution samples, space for biographical information, and links to sources and related typefaces. We gave account holders the ability to create Sets and "Like" Uses. We expanded the Collection pages so they show more Uses and take advantage of wide screens. And we deployed an bunch of other enhancements that are best covered in another post.
We also welcomed new writers to the Blog so we can publish more frequent typographic histories, observations, and critiques.
Today, we celebrate our birthday with a few party favors. Introducing the first of an annual awards show. What follows is the "best of Fonts In Use in 2013", as dictated by our editorial staff. This list of font uses and users is a glimpse into contemporary type-driven graphic design. We hope it surfaces content from the collection that you may have missed, and sparks you to contribute your own work — or work you admire — to the growing archive.
Uses of the Year
To us, great typography means thoughtful type choices used in skillful or unusual ways. The work below reached the pinnacle of that standard in 2013. The winners include designs from a range of formats, from exhibition and poster design to websites and book covers. They represent designers and studios from around the globe. And they span the gamut of typeface styles, both old and new, from over a dozen different foundries.
Big Plans Exhibition Design
Designed by Jessica Svendsen and Julia Novitch
Using Bureau Grot and Letter Gothic
1941: The Year That Keeps Returning Book Cover
Designed by Rumors
Using Puncho and DTL Fleischmann
Image, Building, Object Film Series Posters
Designed by James Goggin
Using Plak and an unreleased typeface by Laurenz Brunner
The Bling Ring Trailer and Posters
Designed by P+A and Silenzio Communication
Designed by Francesco Franchi
Using Domaine, Atlas Grotesk, and Atlas Typewriter
Uses of the YearHonorable Mentions
Stitching in my own way: The embroideries of Iris Todd
Stalkr Brand and Website
Kunst am Spreeknie Schöneweide Art Festival
2013 Pitchfork Music Festival Announcement
2013 Pitchfork Music Festival
2013 Pitchfork Music Festival App
Gargalo Nº 1, 2, 3, 4
Achtung: Berlin Symposium
Messages by Dillon Francis Music Video and Album Art
Belvedere Square Market Sign
Fritz Müller Sparkling Wines
Users of the Year
These graphic designers and studios produced several pieces that our staff recognized as exceptional typography. For this award we looked at all the Uses in the Collection credited to a designer, not just the work produced in 2013. (When we say "Users" we mean "font users". The best users of the site are honored in the next section: "Contributors of the Year".)
NYC Beaches identity
InsideOut SF poster diptych
Rockaway Beach Installations
The Printing House identity
This storied New York-based studio is well represented in our collection not just because they are famous or produce so much newsworthy, visible work, but because they obviously love type.Pentagrammakes good use of a wide range of typefaces and they document that work well, writing about their type selection and giving credit to the font makers.
"Zu bürgerlicher Eintracht und Vertraulichkeit"
10 Jahre Sprachenzentrum
Ästhetik des Opfers
Nina Stössingeris a Swiss designer of books and identities who uses a variety of typefaces (many of them very new) from various sources and lucidly articulates her choices on her site and Fonts In Use. We recognize her here not for her 2013 work, but for her rich contributions over the last three years. She can be excused for using less type recently because she's been quite busy learning more about how to make it: Stössinger is currently a Type and Media graduate student at KABK in The Hague. She writes about that experience too.
Deseo & Psiquiatría
El valor del tiempo perdido
Solois a Barcelona studio founded in 2011 by Óscar Germade. Their work for a range of luxury brands and editorial publications is characterized by restraint, setting stages in which the type itself is the focal point.
Studio Laucke Siebein
Angewandt Exhibition Materials
Poster for Typography Lectures at HBK Saar
Flexa Creations Color Chips
Like Stössinger, this nod toStudio Laucke Siebeinis more of a multi-year achievement award. Dirk Laucke (Amsterdam) and Johanna Siebein (Berlin) give new life to unusual and forgotten typefaces in their decidedly modern work.
Users of the YearHonorable Mentions
Thomas Alberty, New York Magazine
Arem Duplessis, The New York Times Magazine
The New York Times Digital
TGG Hafen Senn Stieger
Richard Turley, Bloomberg Businessweek
Contributors of the Year
Since we opened the site to public submissions in mid-2012, these Fonts In Use visitors contributed the most interesting and discussion-provoking Uses to the Collection. Not only did they upload good images of great work, but bonus points were awarded for adding insight, commentary, or critique.
After over 30 years as a designer and lettering artist at Hallmark Cards,Chris Purcellretired in 2012. Their loss is our gain: Chris has been a voracious contributor to Fonts In Use since then, adding over 40 Uses to the Collection. His submissions are broad ranging, covering many different industries, formats, and periods. The examples are sometimes from his own collection or documented with his own photography. And many of them are more than a simple image upload: they include his commentary, which often generates further discussion.
Mille Bornes Card Game (1960 Edition)
13-inch Lucite® ruler (1970s)
Smithsonian Magazine Table of Contents (1989 & 2013)
Along with some of his own fine work,Maurice Meilleurhas contributed several pieces by other designers. Maurice is an his own photos or images generated from PDFs.
University of Illinois
Isotype: Design & Contexts
Patch Hofweberis a American ex-pat living in Malmö, Sweden. His contributions number over 20 to date, and focus on web and identity design, two areas of critique, an attribute that served him well as one of our rare guest writers on the Fonts In Use Blog.
Julius: The Cards
A List Apart 5.0
Contributors of the YearHonorable Mentions
Contributors of the YearFont Foundries & Providers
Letters from Sweden
bb-bureau (Benoît Bodhuin)
Contributions of the Year
This is a placeholder for a future award, meant for those non-staff contributions that are exceptional in their visual documentation, critical analysis, and/or historical research. To get that ball rolling for 2014, here are a few Uses that were popular or controversial from last year:
Volksbühne Berlin Poster Campaign
The Other Times Modern
Cheers Logo and Opening Titles
Myspace 2013 Rebrand
The Third Man Movie Poster
The Great Gatsby Film Promotion
2013 Tesla Model S Dashboard Display
Yahoo! Logo (2013)
Fonts In Frequent Use
In addition to the typefaces represented by our featured Uses and Users of the Year (most of which are shown in the main sidebar at the top of the page), the font families shown at right appeared most frequently in 2013 designs posted to Fonts In Use. This list only represents work in our Collection, so these certainly aren't the most prevalent typefaces in all design today — that would be overlooking system/app bundled fonts, Core Web fonts, freebies, other perennially popular typefaces like Gotham, Neutraface, and revivals of classics like Caslon and Garamond. Yet they do reflect part of the current design zeitgeist: all sans serifs, most (except Alright Sans) are firmly in the static Gothic, Grotesque, or Geometric models. An odd outlier is ITC Serif Gothic. Nick Sherman has discovered that Lubalin and Di Spigna's 1972 design is seeing a curious revival.
Our observant co-editor Florian also noted these early adopters of typefaces newly released in 2013 or late 2012: Macula for Colin Smith, Audree for AwardsLine, Berlingske for A-Magasinet, Line for Rodeo, Domaine for Designing News, Magasin for Elle Decoration, MVB Solitaire for Assembly, FF Quixo for Publishing Design syllabus, FF Mark for Bench, Baton for L'Histoire du Diable, FF Dora for Gewone Letters, Landmark for Parc Olympique, Vinter for Queensland Ballet, and LL Circular for a number of uses.
What did we miss? With over 2,000 Uses added to the site in 2013, there is surely more typography worth honoring. What were your favorite font uses of 2013? Link 'em up in the comments below. And if your favorite design is not already in the Collection, now is the time to contribute. Your participation is vital to this endeavor.