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Neville Brody is coming to New York on June 14 to speak on “Type and Time” as part of the TDC at Parsons program. He will discuss type on a grand stage (he is on a roll with Coke’s Unity type) but also the introduction of his latest two type families, Bonn and Buffalo. I caught up with him right before flying across the pond. You can hear more tonight.
You seem to have a fixation with B names. Any relation to Brody?
The alphabetic alignment is appropriate but serendipitous! However, B is useful: it isn’t as weak as an A, and still comes early in any list – we tend to skip the ‘A’s 🙂 I do find it is a more emotive shape than an A, and in the launch period the coincidence of B’s makes it easy to remember. There was a period when everything I did started with an F – The Face, Fontshop, FUSE, so a BF is perfect.
What is the most distinctive aspect of both the Bonn and Buffalo faces?
Both started out fundamentally as gridded constructions which evolved in two very different directions.
Bonn is intentionally 20th into 21st century – modern modernist – based on a geometric form which has then been rendered more humanistic. It is purposefully open and clean, the large x-height creates internal space while the external design feels more architectural and urban. It is a wide font, highly scalable and deliberately functional.
Buffalo is more personality-driven, and evolved from establishing some strict rules about how the radius of its curves increase as the weight gets thinner, resulting in some beautiful and unexpected shapes at the lightest end, a some bold, chunky street-wise character at the heaviest end.
You have long been a type maven, especially those with experimental quirks. Bonn fits into the Modern aesthetic. Have you become more of a pragmatist over the years?
I have always been a pragmatist. Everything I have done has been systematic at base: I produce systems, whether experimental languages which share a key set of questions, or building a core framework and structure over which we can hang more unexpected expressions. At the end of the day, people need systems and patterns in order to assimilate new ideas, otherwise these become simply disconnected instances.
Buffalo does indeed have a unique stylistic quality. How do you see it being used?
Buffalo works well in publishing and cultural areas – it scales well, being robust and functional at smaller sizes, but becomes a beast or a beauty at display sizes! I love playing with this font – it always delivers something interesting and dynamic, it certainly is no wall-flower.
What is the future for Brody Fonts? What do you want to do next?
We are currently exploring other revisions of earlier interesting typefaces that I have worked on but not fully developed as full families. Alongside this, our associate type designer Luke Prowse is developing some new ideas and families.