Founded by partner Chantra Malee and type designer Lucas Sharp, New York City–based type foundry Sharp Type produces one-of-a-kind fonts for use in the arenas of branding, digital, environmental and print. For their foundry’s site, Malee and Sharp knew they wanted to go against the grain of what is expected for a type foundry’s site. They reached out to web designer Justin Sloane, whom Lucas had worked with at the design firm Pagan & Sharp. “It was pure luck for us to have him,” Malee says. “[Justin] just happened to be on the move to become freelance again around the time we approached him about the site.” Sloane created a beautiful, mature layout that prominently features Malee and Sharp’s design aesthetic: a site that is minimalist at its core, but uses color to convey the foundry’s character. For development, the foundry commissioned Tyler Madsen, whom Malee and Sharp had also worked with in the past at New York City–based design and development firm Type Code. To create in-browser font interpolation, the foundry drew inspiration from Dutch designer Erik van Blokland, who pioneered the coding acrobatics required to implement online interpolation. Type Code partner Andrew Mahon helped re-create Blokland’s code for Sharp Type’s site. Malee art-directed, managed and photographed content, while Sharp designed Sharp Type’s brand assets and art-directed the interactive type features and treatments for the site.
Sharp Type’s product pages feature a live type tester that enables users to type in and edit content like a word processor. In any font field, users can add and delete text, and change the size, width and weight. Case study pages inspire visitors with examples of applications of Sharp Type’s fonts. The site’s design is capped by a Trajan-style logotype, which, as Malee reports, “involved a long process of drawing, scratching and redrawing” to get just right. And, key to presenting any product, photo and video content round out Sharp Type’s products on case study pages and throughout the site. “We dig the full-bleed video content we included,” Malee says. “We like that the feature is unusual in our industry and is—to us—more engaging than static images. Broadcast is a huge part of our industry, but is often overlooked for sexy print material.”
Because of its extensive presentation of files—pages average 20 to 30 file requests—Sharp Type’s site relies on Django page templates and Redis to handle download times. Static assets are compressed on the site’s front end with the build script Gulp.js, and Madsen utilized Wagtail, digital agency Torchbox’s Django-based CMS. “We decided to use Wagtail because of its attractive, easy-to-use interface and its StreamField feature, which gave us the ability to structure each page’s content according to Justin Sloane’s freeform designs,” Malee explains. The site has solidified and enhanced Sharp Type’s brand, inspiring visitors with its distinctive qualities for a foundry’s site.