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Kontour condenses Kopius

Sibylle Hagmann returns with a narrow riff on a quirky, good-natured serif face that stood out in 2016.

Sibylle Hagmann is that rare type designer who elegantly—and rather explicitly—references history, yet reworks it into wholly original, forward-thinking designs that are unmistakably her own. Her lauded Odile and Elido embody this talent. While the inspiration for that serif/sans suite came from an incomplete experimental typeface by William Addison Dwiggins, the category-crossing superfamily represents an exciting interpretation of mid-century-modern typography.

Image showing the novel glyph construction and unusual serif shapes of Kopius

Novel glyph construction and unusual serif shapes give Kopius a supple, upbeat appearance.

Kopius is the most recent example of Hagmann’s acumen. Released almost exactly a year ago, Kopius is loosely based on Liberta, a serif family designed by Herbert Thannhaeuser in the mid- to late 1950s for the East German type foundry VEB Typoart. The refreshing design merges a striking East German (and by extension European) mid-century aesthetic with the joie de vivre of quintessentially American soft-edged faces like Cooper. Building on the original, Hagmann drew Kopius Condensed, a space-conscious version of the upright weights.

Image showing the narrow variants for all seven upright styles of Kopius

Kopius Condensed introduces narrow variants for all seven upright styles.

While exploring Liberta for her design of Kopius, Sibylle Hagmann came upon two condensed widths of Thannhaeuser’s types that were later added to the initial weights. Liberta Schmalhalbfett (Condensed Semibold) and Schmalfett (Condensed Extrabold) were published in 1959 and 1960, respectively. While they served as guidelines for the shape and proportions of Kopius Condensed, the design details are all Kopius. The letterforms feature the same slightly curved stems and asymmetrically bracketed serifs that reference the action of a brush, adding a dynamic flow to the text. Although they are distinctly narrower, the open counters guarantee excellent legibility, even in small text sizes.

Image showing how, because the weights in Kopius Condensed perfectly match the weights in the original Kopius, the new Condensed widths can be used as space-saving alternatives for solving specific composition issues

Because the weights in Kopius Condensed perfectly match the weights in the original, the new condensed widths offer space-saving solutions to tricky composition problems.

Kopius Condensed’s seven weights perfectly harmonize with the weights of the original Kopius family, providing many possibilities for mixing and matching the regular and condensed widths in demanding publishing environments. The character sets support Latin Extended, and include small caps, several sets of figures, and a full complement of arrows. Two bonus fonts, Kopius Extras Box Headings and Kopius Extras Labels, allow users to add stylish frames and symbols to typographic compositions set in Kopius Condensed.

Like its wider sibling, Kopius Condensed is an affable serif with a genuinely multifaceted repertoire. It increases the typographic range of Kopius while preserving an easygoing but confident personality that works as well in continuous text as in display settings. The family imbues branding and editorial projects with a breeziness that is both pleasant and functional. A wonderfully empathic alternative to too-serious corporate faces, Hagmann’s latest effort imparts a human warmth.

Like all Kontour fonts, Kopius Condensed is available for print, web, applications, and ePub licensing. Webfonts may be tested free for thirty days. To stay current on all things Kontour, subscribe to Type Network News, our occasional email newsletter featuring font releases, foundry happenings, type and design events, and more.