Responses by Michu Benaim Steiner, chief executive officer, In-House International.
Background: In-House is a creative studio specializing in branding and strategy for clients, including identity, animation and type design. This foundry was launched early in the pandemic as a creative risk to connect with the broader community. Our studio’s foundry focuses on expressive display type that’s connected to a collective sense or emotion in a particular moment to offer to creatives and type enthusiasts. Perfora was made as an antidote to the relentless anxiety we’ve been feeling to encourage designers to create stuff, even when everything feels like it’s falling apart—like emotional-support block toys.
Design thinking: We set out to address three components of anxious unease: trust, uncertainty and dread. We built in features that communicate the opposite: reliability, flexibility and joy. It’s a very heavy typeface that feels durable and solid. It’s ultraflexible, so it’s never constraining, width and height are variable, and it includes two character styles. And it’s modular and built to stack and shape and play—and who doesn’t like fun? It’s almost made of minimal cuts and perforations, so it’s not too precious but still stylish.
Challenges: Technically, figuring out how to incorporate ornamental glyphs into variable parameters so they’d stretch along with all the numbers and letters. Since this is a self-initiated project, the challenge was finding the time to design, develop, present and showcase the new release.
Favorite details: The ornamental glyphs was super fun to develop. We used the same cut-in and hole-punch geometry that shaped alphanumeric characters to make pretty decorative widgets that have no real meaning. It adds a built-in way for designers to separate words, decorate design or assign meaning as needed.
Visual influences: Latin American album cover lettering and typography from the late ’60s and ’70s. Building blocks and Bauhaus design principles. Office supply paper crafts. We were aiming for an eye-catching, functional, decorative display type with use of very few simple shapes and rules.
Time constraints: We moved up our release date of Perfora so that it would coincide with a type-related event we were speaking at. Typically, we release all variable type families with animated type samples, but the adjusted release date meant sacrificing those materials and going with flat designs and mockups only. However, Perfora has gotten an enthusiastic response from designers licensing the type, so the still samples seem to have been enough after all!