Handpicked Typefaces

Awarded: Algo FY

June 05, 2015 by
Yves Peters
Yves Peters

In January the Club des Directeurs Artistiques announced the winners of their 46th annual awards. The role of this organisation is to reflect excellence in advertising and graphic arts, promoting it through multiple channels, and to encourage creation and nurture the talent of tomorrow. Due to the changing landscape the activities of the Club des DA aren’t restricted to advertising anymore, because creativity can be found anywhere. This is why the organisation has opened up itself to all the fields where it is expressed – broadcasting identities, video clips, photography, internet, design, and fairly recently typography since its 2011 Awards. The first ever jury for the Typography category was chaired by Jean François Porchez, who invited me to chair the 43rd Awards. The category is subdivided in five sections: Printed Advertising; Advertising in Motion; Editorial, Press, Catalogues, Visual Identity; Custom Lettering & Logos; Typeface Design. This year the jury selected Algo FY by Michel Derre as the best new original typeface.

Algo FY is a strikingly original font family, designed with the broken ductus of the blackletter model in mind. The letter forms feature characteristic articulations, with in-strokes that are different from the out-strokes. Alternating concave and convex shapes keep the characters spontaneous and fresh, lending the family a distinct, fun personality. Even though technically speaking the forms are rather angular, the overall impression one gets is soft and friendly. This lends the typeface a pronounced sculptural and dynamic feel; contemporary with rustic, almost primitive overtones.

With character shapes that are clearly inspired by calligraphy, the weight progression interestingly suggests a change in writing tools between the different styles. Each weight reveals interesting design details in the letters. Of note are the lowercase ‘g’ with its compact tail instead of the customary loop, how the tail of the Black ‘Q’ is attached to the body, or the ‘i’ and ‘j’ with their differing tittles. While the Light and Regular can be used for short to medium-length copy, the Black is reserved for display use and identity work.

Typographer, graphic designer and letterer Michel Derre has been practicing and teaching calligraphy since the eighties. After six months of intensive collaboration with the Fontyou team on co-create.fontyou.com, this is his first commercial typeface to be released. Algo FY joins other contemporary interpretations of blackletters like for example Fakir, Gargoyle, Linotype Auferstehung, and others. I interviewed Michel Derre about the creation of his awarded typeface.

Is Algo FY truly your first typeface design?

Michel Derre | “It is indeed the first one to be released commercially. But other investigations, other corporate typefaces, from long ago, are merely waiting to see the light of day.”

What made you decide to develop a blackletter face? It is not exactly the most popular genre at the moment with many designers’ obsession for sans serifs in the style of the Helvetica®, Futura®, DIN® and Gotham typefaces.

Michel Derre | “For me, first and foremost it was to kick the hornets’ nest in a way. I wanted to shake up the writing strokes, to cut up the silhouettes differently, to make the text colour sparkle. Then, also because I get so profoundly tired of seeing the obsession you mention which – under the guise of “modernity” – seems to be guided rather by a lazy preoccupation for the illusion of neutrality.”

How did the collaboration with the Fontyou team work out?

Michel Derre | “It was a very fruitful one, I think, for everyone involved. Proof is the benevolence and enthusiasm during the entire trajectory of the project. What could have thrown me off at the onset, the fact of having different hand and minds manipulate my shapes and lines, turned out to be very beneficial on the contrary. For once a critical eye was cast not only on the finished product but along the entire gestation of the typeface. This allowed an achievement of my original intentions with consideration towards compromise, and avoiding personal conflict.”

Trademark Attribution Notice
Helvetica is a trademark of Monotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. Futura is a registered Trademark of Bauer Types. DIN is a trademark of Monotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. FF is a trademark of Monotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions.