Responses by Phil Garnham, creative director, Fontsmith.
Background: Fontsmith is a dynamic team of type designers that value creativity in typeface design. Our focus is to deliver well-crafted alphabets that push tech as far as possible. Our journey into variable fonts pretty much began the moment that technology was announced at ATypl in 2016 when we began exploring interpolations and the creative possibilities for new axes. Earlier this year, we created a hugely innovative, variable font logotype that reacts to camera movement and interaction for WPP’s Amsteldok campus. Design is no longer static: it’s adaptive and multidimensional. Fonts are moving forward, too, and the time for variable fonts is now.
Variable fonts offer huge benefits to designers and brands looking to tailor their identities and deliver content in the most efficient way possible. They empower designers and open up discussions around what is creatively possible with font files today. We felt that we needed to launch something as a statement of intent: a microsite that highlights this creative potential and calls upon graphic designers and web developers to start adopting this new technology and collaborating with us to move forward.
Larger campaign: We updated nine font families to the variable font format, and we really wanted to get these fonts out into the wild and into the hands of designers. Variable font tech is still very much in its infancy, so fine-tuning the build of the font files was a huge part of this project. Our type engineering team has been working relentlessly to make the most complete, up-to-date specification version of the fonts. This site creates awareness of our work in this area, our exclusive font library and facilitates discussion within the design community.
Design core: We worked really hard to make sure the site presented a sense of variety in styles and possibilities—without going too wild. We wanted to showcase realistic, type-now scenarios. The site’s core feature is the ability to experience variable fonts and their design space in a clear, user-friendly way. The site clearly visualizes the concept of interpolation and how a variable font can be manipulated.
Special features: For many designers, the concept of “optical-size” adjustments to letters may be completely new. Our FS Kim Variable Font has an optical-size axis where designers can type and explore the concept of changing a letter’s contrast and serif to improve legibility.
The site is instructive, a useful tool for defining new styles. You can download the actual font files, and the site’s CSS values can be taken and applied to any website to achieve the same results. Overall, the site is a playground for experiencing typography and exploring type styles, their extremes, and everything in between.