Responses by Emilios Theofanous, creative type director, Monotype.
Background: Touvlo is a personal, contemporary interpretation of early British grotesque typefaces. It aims to capture the spirit of the genre while sprinkling in attitude and humor, offering designers and creatives a timeless, unique aesthetic.
With a total of 24 weights in three styles across three variable fonts, Touvlo’s variety adds flavor to any use case. It fits nicely for brands looking for a unique tone, can withstand complex typographic layouts in contemporary magazines and book publishers, and is an excellent choice for museums and galleries, from catalogs to poster designs. It is also a great fit for fashion, packaging, fintech and other industries.
Design thinking: I wanted Touvlo’s ingredients to be a bit of history, a practical mind and a contemporary twist—a fleshed-out type family with elements of surprise and enough character and voice to perform across media and design genres.
Touvlo’s regular upright weights are optimized for long text, with prominent and visible vertical contrast that creates rhythm and texture for comfortable reading. The italics are designed to be visibly distinct with narrower proportions and calligraphic shapes, offering brightness and emphasis wherever needed. The backslants are an unexpected, energetic addition, providing an element of surprise while following similar design choices as the italics and packing a particular punch.
Challenges: Extracting the design details from historical sources and adjusting for a coherent design space with variable font technology in mind while preserving some original characteristics. The backslants were also quite challenging, considering this is not a style we usually design, so it required more testing, proofing and redesigning than anticipated—but it was worth it!
Favorite details: It’s difficult to focus and choose the specific details of Touvlo I’m most proud of. Each style has its moments, from playful terminals and lively curves to design choices that make each of the styles unique. But if I were forced to choose one aspect of the typeface, it would be the drop caps: they were incredibly fun to design and feature exquisite birds and other creatures inspired by ornaments found in type specimen books.
New lessons: Every project has a learning curve, and Touvlo was no exception. I started working on Touvlo soon after I moved to London, and since then, we have both changed! Trends in graphic design and type design always affect the design process, and my experience as part of the Monotype Studio helped the project grow and mature.
Visual influences: Touvlo was initially inspired by historical sources but quickly transformed into a more personal interpretation of late-19th- and early-20th-century grotesque designs from British foundries. Being in London, I had the opportunity to visit the St Bride Library, a library dedicated to printing, book arts, typography and graphic design, and dive into type specimens of the era from other British foundries. I was able to grasp their essence and cultural spirit without aiming for a detailed or accurate historical revival, as Touvlo’s purpose is for it to live in the present day.