Oktal Mono, a New Typeface from Delve Fonts

For Immediate Release:
Alameda, CA - May 24th, 2012

Delve Fonts releases Oktal Mono, a new typeface by Joachim Müller-Lancé and Erik Adigard.

A monospaced type family composed of entirely mono-linear and modular structure, Oktal Mono first began in a design-philosophical discourse between Joachim Müller-Lancé and Erik Adigard of the design studio M-A-D in Sausalito, California. The typeface later came to life as a design experiment wherein a type designer (Joachim) and a graphic designer (Erik) collaborate each in their own capacity, from within their respective disciplines.

Oktal Mono is available now at: http://www.delvefonts.com/oktal_mono.html

A type specimen (PDF) for Oktal Mono can be downloaded at: http://www.delvefonts.com/pdf/specimen_oktal_mono.pdf

Erik had proposed the idea of a typeface concept that would be intentionally generic but with no curves whatsoever, approaching legibility by breaking expected curves into facets. Joachim concerned himself with examining systematically what happens when a circle is reduced or translated to a square, hexagon, and octagon, and which of these treatments appear the “least alien” to the original design: A condition that might even depend on the relation of type size to line width—smaller sizes requiring fewer facets so they won’t look merely like crumpled curves.

While working on the book project Ceci tuera cela for the 2012 Chaumont Poster Festival, Erik suggested tackling the concept as an exercise of “a font in one day” for use in the book. In reality, however, the basic character set took closer to 2½ days to draw. First, Joachim determined an octagonal base was most appropriate for the average text size. Then the required glyphs were built systematically on a square grid like a construction toy, yielding large numbers of variations. Lastly, in lively discussion as always, character shapes were selected for best fit together in rhythm and consistent aesthetic. The rest was rapid boiler room production, and the book went off for editing and proofing.

As Joachim continued revising the weight and details of the Regular and built a matching Bold, an eBook in development by M-A-D offered itself for use of Oktal in the two weights: The Vibrancy Effect for V2_, an institute/museum of contemporary art and technology in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Oktal Mono’s concept has been an interesting exploration in various design aspects. How far can you get by following simple, stern rules to a tee? When and where do you need to compromise, how far and in what manner? For adding detail in complex characters such as currencies, it was necessary to break the grid into smaller units, and for small shapes like fractions, to introduce slightly thinner strokes. Yet all of it could be achieved while never straying from 45° diagonals. Thus, the rhythm of letterforms becomes more intricate at times, but never changes tempo.

While Oktal Mono was begun as mono-linear, a slight modulation was applied to ease reading: Horizontal strokes were made a tad thinner than the verticals, with diagonals weighing in between.

A formal, logical exercise like this can easily be built out into more variations. In its present incarnation, we opted for sharp corners and round terminals. Equally well, one might wish to see round corners and square terminals, or perhaps all round, or all sharp. What about all dotted lines? Adding nodes to the corners? Inserting an inline? We hope it can be the touchstone and starting point for many innovative experiments. Put it to the test!

Delve Fonts is a full-service type foundry in Alameda, CA offering designers and clients exclusive new typefaces and type design services including: Custom Type Design, Foreign Language Fonts, fonts for Games, Apps, and Mobile Devices.

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Oktal Mono is a trademark of Kame Design. All rights reserved.

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