Novo Typo is the typefoundry of Atelier van Wageningen (typo)graphic designers, based in Amsterdam,
The Netherlands (www.ateliervanwageningen.nl). Some of our fonts are produced for special occasions,
for example part of designing a corporate identity, bookcover, signing system or a publicity campaign.
Other typefaces were designed on our own initiative. The Family Gagarin was first published at 2rebels and Fontshop Benelux. The typefaces Cerny, Laika and Sjablony are part of the Linotype / Monotype Collection. All the fonts are designed by Atelier van Wageningen. Read more about our definition of the dynamic identity of Novo Typo.
If you like to talk with us about a new design for your logo, corporate identity, publicitycampaign, website, business-card, bookcover or anything else... send us an e-mail. Or if you are interested in hiring the Novo Typo designers for producing a special custom made typeface contact us at email@example.com
Read: Novum Magazine, page 30, - Typeface Iconoclast - by Victor Garcia, 2013.
The Novo Type design studio in Amsterdam designs creative and eclectic typefaces inspired by styles as diverse as Russian Constructivism and Art Nouveau and rebels against the strict dogmatic precepts of readability and legibility that are demanded by perfectionists and held aloft the cloister of academe.
How many designers would dare to insult Mies van der Rohe's 'sacrosanct' mantra of 'less is more', alleging that it has caused great damage to typographic design? Many designers have ranted and raved about Helvetica, not knowing how to add a few curves and irregularities to improve its 'boring' appearance, like that prank perpetrated by people of all ages and all countries who adorn photographs on street posters with moustaches? Which typeface designer did they recently hear say: 'We don't care about legibility very much. In our opinion a typeface is always readable, otherwise it will not be a typeface'? And how many find inspiration in non-Latin typefaces, such as Cyrillic, Chines and Japanese, claiming that they let them appreciate the beautiful shapes of the letters, freed from the literal meanings? Novo Typo.
Novo Typo was founded by Mark van Wageningen in January 2012; its portfolio is made up of designs that emerged from various projects such as sign systems, corporate identities, bookcovers and posters. His typographic philosophy is almost a manifesto: 'We think that a good design is the result of a collaboration between the designer and his client.' (...) 'In the end, good type design is not only about legibility, it is about the right typeface, for the right message, at the right time, for the right medium.' (...) 'We like to make "imperfect" typefaces. In a technical way everything should be perfectly set, but in the design of the typeface, we like to add some imperfection, irregularity and disorder in the shapes of our characters. We think perfect is a little bit dull ... Nowadays there is a generation of too perfect type designers. We think it's beautiful when there is something wrong, at least it is miuch more exciting.' Perfection is divine, and they design for human beings – who are by definition perfectible – and their designs must reflect that sensitivity. Sharp, provocative, unbiased, talented ... they are enfants terrible who think – and work – really very well; with new, fresh ideas about typographic work which they express in their designs.
Read: Dutch Type, page 278, - Mark van Wageningen's Russian deconstructivism - by Jan Middendorp, 010 publishers, 2004.
Mark van Wageningen's Russian deconstructivism
The development of Mark van Wageningen (1969) as a type designer is typical of his generation. Having graduated from the Amsterdam Rietveld Academy in 1994, his early typefaces were derivative and grungy; but his interest in letterforms deepened and culminated in an extensive family of constructed typefaces, Gagarin, still expanding at the time of this writing.
Van Wageningen's motives for making type are those of a restless graphic designer who wants new and unusual alphabets to give his book jackets, magazines and posters a more personal touch. He began selling his fonts because fellow designers asked for them, and because he enjoyed playing around with their packaging and specimens. Several of them were later licensed to international foundries.
The first font issued was a graduation project called Stavba (1994). Van Wageningen described it as 'a laserprinter print-out of Futura Bold, each letter cut up in a consistent manner and the pieces pasted up again and returned to the computer.' Cerny (1995) looks equally destructive, but was not derived from an existing typeface. Using a technique practised by fellow Amsterdammer Willem Sandberg, Van Wageningen tore each character out of black paper, then digitized the result without much alteration.
Cerny, a rough-and-tumble caps-only alphabet with no counters, is an amusing experiment of limited use. It was judged interesting enough for inclusion in the TakeType 2 collection published in 1998 by the Linotype Library. Two more fonts by Van Wageningen were on that CD: Laika and Sjablony (from sjabloon, the Dutch word for stencil). Of his 'rough' fonts, the stencil type Zkumavka is the most interesting. It has rather original forms that are vaguely reminiscent of 1920s display lettering, and is surprisingly legible in smaller point sizes. Zkumavka dates from 1995 but was not published until 2002, when it was released by 2Rebels in Montreal.
Van Wageningen was first brought into contact with 2Rebels by FontShop Benelux. He had long been playing with the idea of a typeface family structured in an unusual way. In an article presenting the Gagarin family, he wrote: 'Compared to a real family, a typographic family is usually a rather dull show. Where is the criminal nephew? Where is the uncle who knows all kinds of tricks? A type family usually goes from roman to italic and from thin to thick ... These boring series allow very limited space to the individual freedom of their members. ... The Gagarin family is a real family, like life itself, in good times and bad times.' This last phrase is a reference to a well-known Dutch tv soap.
As his font names indicate, Van Wageningen is fascinated by Russian culture, especially by Futurism and Constructivism. Gagarin is the first typeface for which he has actually taken clues from that period: it is partly based on the geometric principles apparent in the lettering of Rodchenko and the Stenberg brothers and copied in a lot of vernacular lettering from the Soviet era. Each variant is drawn on the same simple grid. The basic fonts are rectangular, with rounded angles; some are roughened or blurred. The structure of the family is an open system, allowing for foreign influences. When Van Wageningen wanted to add two 'female' Gagarins with a more calligraphic streak, he invited a young Flemish designer named Nele Reyniers to participate in his project. Being left-handed, she incorporated the inversed stress of a left-handed broad-nibbed pen in her two contributions to the Gagarin family, Leonora and Magda. A serif version of Gagarin drawn by Reyniers is on its way.