The Best Fonts of 2021, As Chosen By Type Designers – Eye on Design
Ruthless as asking a parent to disclose which child they love most, we pressed a dozen typeface designers around the globe to name their favorite fonts released over the past year. What emerged was an energetic mix: entirely modern scripts that hearken back to the days of calligraphy, brush lettering, and copperplate penmanship; fonts that hover dramatically between serif and sans serif; high-contrast alphabets with tons of unique personality; some quirky typefaces that march to their own beats; and a DIY crowdsourced font for social justice—hear, hear—that anyone can create on the spot with just a paintbrush, paint, and some A4 paper. (PS: We love you all exactly the same.)
“It’s a versatile superfamily to use in a large branding project or signage. I particularly like the Flare sub-family; it sits nicely between a serif and a sans.”
—Wael Morcos, Brooklyn-based typeface and graphic designer
“Simultaneously wonderfully creative and a technical masterpiece. I love how the designer really pushed her tools, with different optical sizes and contextual alternates, as well as the beautiful details in the drawings of certain symbols.”
—Marie Boulanger, London-based typeface designer and speaker
Designer: Alexandre Bassi, based on an idea of Timothée Gouraud and the original signs painted by Chantal Jacquet
Foundry: OpenSource licensing by the ANRT (Atelier National de Recherche Typographique, France).
“I love this font because it achieves the hard task of bringing together typography (a mechanical process) with the imperfect movements of the hand. It’s based on thorough research about existing vernacular material, and is full of alternate glyphs that create a lively texture to replicate the sign-painting effect.”
—Emilie Riguad, Paris-based typeface designer, researcher, and educator
“Apart from the obvious fact that Epicene is both handsome and functional in its display and text variants, I love it that Kris is using the design to address ideas about campness and gender equality while also perfectly encapsulating the glories of the Baroque.”—Paul McNeil, London-based graphic designer, writer and educator
“I really like that this typeface isn’t afraid to be loud, unique and a little bit of a weird creature. It shows great balance between eye-catching style and function. I’m absolutely in love with its scalloped serifs.”
—Elizaveta Rasskazova, Moscow-based typeface and graphic designer
Designer Yevgeniy Anfalov couldn’t decide which of the following three fonts he loved best, so we bent the rules a little.
Designer: Arve Båtevik
Foundry: Store Norske Skriftkompani
“Every release from this foundry brings joy. Graut is a variable font in machine-engraving space-age optics, oscillating between monospaced and proportional masters.”
—Yevgeniy Anfalov, Hannover-based visual designer and art director.
Designer/Foundry: Bureau Brut
“Roman Grotesque makes an interesting meeting between Grotesque and serif typefaces, with a warm and clear-cut texture, mixed between organic and geometric forms. Bonus: An extended set of arrows and ornaments.”
—Fátima Lázaro, typeface and graphic designer, currently based between Paris and Mexico City
“Rustique is a typeface that I’d like to have created myself: Rustic Capitals merged with contemporary type design, highlighting the value of calligraphy.”
—Laura Meseguer, Barcelona-based typeface and graphic designer
Designer: Edwin Moreira
“I love that it has modern and even quirky details yet manages to retain a classical quality. I also like its ligatures and swashes.”
—Gastón Fuoco, Buenos Aires-based digital designer and art director
The modular typeface/poster system that emerged in the pre-Covid streets of French cities, aimed at raising consciousness of widespread domestic violence and crimes—a message that became even more urgent as domestic abuse increased during a year of recurring lockdowns. The authors of this typeface are multiple, mostly unknown activists.
The monospace typeface system, associated with informal feminist collectives nicknamed Les Colleuses (the feminine grammatical gender for “The Gluers”), is simple and cheap: one A4 paper sheet per letter in simple black brush strokes, somewhere between a handwritten and a sans-serif, and all caps. Anyone can join Les Colleuses by writing a message using the typeface and posting it up somewhere.
This typeface system, besides being a powerful, unique, and free-for-all graphic design tool, creating a new street art language, and carrying messages that touch me and that I fully support, also generates variations on a system. What I love with any system is never its pristine concept, but rather how it produces variations through interpretations, accidents, or necessity. This system is strict and yet the variations—paper and ink color, brush width and stroke—are countless. Each message shows both individuality and cohesiveness—in other words liberty, equality, and—sorority!
—Raoul Audouin, Paris-based typeface and graphic designer