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#54 — Brown Foxes with Coffee

Friends! Coffee Table Typography now has a home. And a new branding. The quick brown fox is drinking
Coffee Table Typography
#54 — Brown Foxes with Coffee
By Coffee Table Typography • Issue #54 • View online
Friends! Coffee Table Typography now has a home. And a new branding. The quick brown fox is drinking a cup of coffee — and a steaming hot one too (as apparently cold brews make her stomach feel iffy). If you’re a Patreon supporter, your name is there in bold, fat type ❤️
Adobe recently launched Hidden Treasures, with complete font sets based on original Bauhaus Dessau sketches. A remarkable feat, even though it’s only available for Adobe’s community members, but still well worth a look. Also make sure not to miss Fonty, a well-built tool which helps you with typesetting on the web. Pretty astonishing work there for web font testing.
I shamefully keep forgetting to let you know that Flexible Typesetting, Tim Brown’s latest book, is just a few weeks away! You can pre-order it already on A Book Apart and, friends, I can pretty much guarantee you it’s going to be a must-have for type lovers.
Just this week, a new cheeky Trump-inspired typeface was released—that’s right, Trump Grotesk. Snyder commissioned Mattias Mackler to develop a typeface (which does actually resemble Trump…) in which he could write some of the “grotesk” things spoken by the American President. More details and downloads can be found at Snyder.
And you just can’t miss this new release at Future Fonts, Arnold 2.0, a monospaced typeface with the quirkiest and most charming italic version you’ll find in a while. 
Let me know what you find of the new newsletter branding, friends, and fire away suggestions or requests. It’s been pretty demanding keeping this going, so any feedback would be greatly appreciated ❤️
—Ricardo

The Story Behind Susan Kare’s Iconic Design Work for Apple
Some of Susan Kare's icons
Some of Susan Kare's icons
If you don’t know who Susan Kare is, you’re certainly already familiar with her work if you’ve used a computer before… which you have. Susan Kare’s icons and fonts for the original Macintosh were beyond revolutionary: they gave computers a warmth and personality that lives on in the modern Mac until now.
It warms my heart to see Susan Kare awarded with the AIGA medal a couple of months ago, for her world-defining work on iconography. She’s known as The Woman Who Gave the Macintosh a Smile and for good reason:
The AIGA award celebrates a career spent searching for the right amount of simplicity and abstraction. Too much, and the design loses all meaning. Too little and the audience can no longer see themselves in it. Her most iconic designs (many of which now hang in the Museum of Modern Art) found the perfect balance between these two extremes.
Early paper prototype
Early paper prototype
That floppy disk icon that we use to Save our work? (or at least, in the era before auto-save or the cloud were a thing). That’s also Susan’s baby. If you use an Apple computer, that squiggly “command” key logo was also Susan’s design:
What Kare lacked in computer experience she made up for in visual knowledge. “Bitmap graphics are like mosaics and needlepoint and other pseudo-digital art forms, all of which I had practiced before going to Apple,” she told an interviewer, in 2000. The command icon, still right there to the left of your space bar, was based on a Swedish campground sign meaning “interesting feature,” pulled from a book of historical symbols. Kare looked to cross-stitch, to mosaics, to hobo signs for inspiration when she got stuck.
But this being a typography newsletter, let’s stick with iconography. According to Susan Kare, good icons should be more efficient like road signs rather than illustrations. They should be easily comprehended and keep the users from getting confused by extraneous details. She is of the view that out of million colors all the colors don’t need to be incorporated in the icons and that once a well-crafted and meaningful icon is designed it doesn’t need to be resigned frequently.
Scroll up to the banner image and see how many of those icons you can recognise; probably more than just a few. I believe Kare is also responsible for the “trash can” as a deletion metaphor since nothing else existed at the time. It’s hard, if not impossible, to disassociate ourselves from these paradigms today since most of us grew up with them. 
Susan also designed sets of typefaces for the Mac. In fact, she implemented the first screen-based proportionally-spaced font. She describes her process:
“I started with Chicago (the bold system font, originally called Elefont) and went on to design a number of others including New York , Geneva, Monaco, Cairo, San Francisco, and Toronto. Since the Macintosh originally was paired with an Imagewriter dot matrix printer, I created families of bitmap fonts that scaled down to appear smooth when printed.”
First sets of typefaces on the Mac
First sets of typefaces on the Mac
The New Yorker also wrote a great article about Susan and her work. There’s so much to be said, read and glorified about Susan’s legacy that I’m going to leave it up to you to investigate further.
New Brand Identity for Ogilvy
Beautiful & elegant since 1964
Beautiful & elegant since 1964
This is a quick one, typeface friends. I just wanted to bring your attention to, in my opinion, the beautiful redesign for Ogilvy which is typographically delicious. COLLINS were fully responsible for the branding update.
Established in 1948 (as Ogilvy & Mather with the merger of London-based Mather & Crowther and David Ogilvy’s New York-based agency), Ogilvy is one of the most well-known ad agencies in the world.
I’ll leave it up to you to open the article, published by Brand New, and look over the design screenshots. But for now, I wanted to bring your attention to this gorgeous ligature detail:
Those ligatures.
Those ligatures.
That is the most striking “gil” I’ll ever come across. Drool over the elegance of this new re-branding over at Brand New (pun not intended).
Hobo Signs and Symbols: Code for the Road
“Hobos developed a system of symbols and signs they’d write with chalk or coal to give fellow “Knights of the Road” directions, help, and warnings.” — is the premise of this article by LogoDesignLove. which I can’t help but share since it is, in essence, written communication.
A little context is in order, first though. By Hobos, we’re talking about the nomadic workers who roamed the United States, never spending too long in any one place, finding jobs wherever they could. They were at their peak in numbers during The Great Depression, at about a whopping estimate of 4,000,000 adults to leave their homes in search of food and lodging. 
Finding food was a constant problem, and hobos often begged at farmhouses. If the farmer was generous, the hobo would mark the lane so other hobos would know it was a good place to beg.
Markings would be made on fences, buildings, trees, pavements — anywhere a message could signal help or trouble.
So they develop a symbol system — a very simple and recognisable one at that, they would use to send others messages, some quite complex.
Some of the symbols Hobos used
Some of the symbols Hobos used
Take your time to admire the symbol system, which very rapidly began to be recognisable in various US states. I find it perplexing that even though no one exactly standardised these icons, they were commonly used by a very large group and easily comprehended. In fact, that was the whole point: a pictographic code which was meant to be understood, while looking like random squiggles to everyone else.
A secret, meaningfully complex pictographic system. If you need a quick refresher on pictographic language,
The major difference between pictographic and phonetic scripts is that while in the former the individual symbols represent ideas and objects, in the latter the symbols stand for sounds.
A modern day one, of course. Pictographic systems per se are about 30.000 years old, initially developed by the Sumerians, then the Egyptians. Also, the Chinese, the Mesoamerican Indians, and the Indus Valley civilization also invented unique pictographic systems. 
But back to our Hobo Code. Amongst a few of these, literally translated, are:
  • A horizontal zigzag — a barking dog.
  • A square missing its top line — safe to camp in that spot.
  • A top hat and a triangle — wealth.
  • A spearhead — a warning to defend yourself.
  • A circle with two parallel arrows — get out fast, hobos aren’t welcome.
  • Two interlocked circles — handcuffs (i.e., hobos are jailed).
  • A caduceus symbol — doctor living in the house.
The article features a bit more information, including small models of houses in the 30s which featured a few of these. But there’s more information found on Web Urbanist, with a little more information on the symbols themselves. Why aren’t they a typeface yet?
Modernizing Arabic Type — Google Design
Google Fonts brings us a fantastic piece on modernising Arabic Type, which is always welcome to see in a Latin-type heavy typographic world.
“Arabic script is beautiful, and imbued with a rich history; the alphabet used today can be traced to classic texts that date back over a thousand years. The language itself has evolved over time, but modernizing Arabic typography—translating the intricacies of this uniquely complex, calligraphic style into a digital format—has been a major challenge.”
I know very little about Arabic type, but it’s certainly a fascinating thing to study (and even look at). Arabic is a very unique language— each letter in a word changes itself based on other letters around it—which makes it a huge challenge to mechanise these rules in an automated (or even printed) fashion. Their letters’ joining properties change the form and shape of the “word” as you type it.
Intermediate steps for "Dad"
Intermediate steps for "Dad"
While over these last few centuries most of the world was focused on Latin typefaces, Arabic has been, by comparison, quite stall: it has only been in the past few years that foundries have dedicated themselves fully to Arabic. However, that doesn’t mean the language hasn’t evolved, quite the opposite in fact:
“Arabic script has a great and extensive history of development and refinement, and this is reflected in how many forms a letter can take, depending on its context,” explains Egypt-based type designer Hosny. “There are lots of tricks to balance the black and white in the line, or even the page as a whole.“
So, at last, the challenges of Arabic type are finally being tackled in recent years. As the Arab-speaking world came online, this gap in type design became even more conspicuous, and people responded by inventing an ad hoc vernacular, transliterating Latin to Arabic in emails, chats, and text messages; for example, “3” would be used to represent “ع”; and عين would be written as “3ain,” instead of the more formal transliteration of “Aain.”
A fantastic example below on the left, a poster for a film festival in Beirut, manages to intertwine Latin and Arabic letterforms ever so beautifully. On the right, a gorgeous book cover which uses the language as part of its charm:
The article goes on to write about the impact of OpenType on the future of Arabic, as well as more thoughts on font composing and the process as a whole. Highly encourage you to keep reading it 🤞
Typeface Du Jour ✍️
Breve News, by DSType
Breve News, by DSType
There are two typefaces this week I want to bring your attention to. One is Breve News, by DSType, and the other is Renner, a gorgeous, free to use Variable Font by Indestructible Type.
Breve News has been around since 2014, designed by Dino dos Santos, but it has the look and feel of a timeless classic. In the foundry’s words,
The Text versions provide a softer and warm feel to the typographic palette and is intended for use in much longer passages of text, while the Title versions are distinguished by non-descending letterforms, making the titles and headlines much more uniform and interesting.
So much elegant charisma in a bundle that doesn’t try too hard at the same time. I love the little details in the lowercase f, almost resembling an ink trap:
The other typeface, Renner, puzzles me. Owen Earl, at Indestructible Type, did a remarkable job on this sans-serif that could easily pass for a high-end, expensive typeface. You can get all the normal weights for free, but for just $10 you can get its variable font version! 😱
So please go ahead and do just that; what better way to support Owen’s fantastic work, while at the same time getting a gorgeous variable font on your toolbelt?
Variable weight axis from Renner
Variable weight axis from Renner
On the Coffee Scene ☕️
Did you enjoy this issue?
Coffee Table Typography

A love for words, letters, language—and coffee.
A digest of curated resources, articles and knowledge sharing about the beauty of typography; in design, on the web, or books.
You will read these over your morning cup of coffee, while the aromas of freshly ground beans are still in the air, quickly realising that words are beautiful and that you might need that second cup after all.

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With 💙 from Montreal, Canada