Two weeks ago, on Saturday, May 24 the European Design Awards 2014 celebrated the best in graphic design, illustration and digital design in Europe. The top communication design studios and designers of the European continent gathered at the Comedia Theatre in Cologne, Germany for the Awards ceremony recognising and rewarding their achievements of the previous year. Gold and silver award winners were invited to collect a trophy and/or a diploma on stage during the event.
The jury comprised of industry editors and design critics awarded 31 gold, 46 silver and 78 bronze prizes in 35 distinct categories ranging from company logo to exhibition design. Amongst those were three Grand Awards. The Porto-based R2 Design was awarded the prestigious 2014 European Design Agency of the Υear, a first for a studio from Portugal. The Bergen International Festival (Festspillene i Bergen) identity by Anti from Norway won the ED-Awards Best of Show, as well as a gold prize in the Brand Implementation category. The ED-Awards Jury Prize was awarded to the brand implementation project De Correspondent by Dutch digital creative agency Momkai – which serendipitously uses Bree (sans) for headlines.
In the “informal” country listings, the Netherlands were on the top spot for a second consecutive year, both in the number of gold awards (five) and in the number of overall distinctions (32). Germany and Austria were not far behind with four gold prizes each, followed by Portugal and Norway with three gold prizes each. In total representatives of 21 different nations won at least one distinction.
Rather an upright italic than a simple sans serif, this remarkable design lends a polished and modern look and feel – as well as an immediate distinct personality – to any word or text. This quickly made Bree very popular in branding and editorial design. It was part of the Tipos Latinos 2008 exhibition, and appeared in several best-of-the-year typeface lists of 2008. In 2009 Bree was awarded Bronze at the European Design Awards, and now – five years later – it is Bree Serif’s turn to collect an ED-Award, this time the highest one in its category 27. Original Typeface
Bree has become one of the success stories of the TypeTogether foundry. Did you have a feeling you were onto something when you were designing it?
José Scaglione | “The original Bree font (the sans serif) is based on our own logotype. Veronika made the lettering for the logo based on the idea of an ‘et’ ligature. Right from the start many people were asking whether the font of our logo was for sale, so that gave us a good idea about its potential success.”
When did you get the idea to add a serif cousin?
José Scaglione | “It was not planned from the beginning. We worked on Bree in 2007, and a couple of years later we started playing with the idea of a matching serif family. The success of the original family played a part, but most of all we saw exciting possibilities to further explore that design concept.”
How did you approach the design of the serif? I suppose it was not as easy as simply snapping on serifs to the sans.
José Scaglione | “As a rule of thumb we are cautious when working on one of those so-called super families. We strongly believe it is crucial that each part of the type family has its own personality and sense of purpose. In other words, while the serif and sans fonts should work together nicely, they should also be strong and functional designs independently from each other. This obviously cannot be achieved by simply adding or chopping off serifs and terminals.”
“With Bree Serif we wanted to achieve a slightly more restrained feel. We expanded upon the upright italic theme of course, but we imagined a typeface that is quite versatile for a wide range of editorial applications. We think the font actually works very well even in extended and continuous text setting.”
“The letter shapes maintain the same typographic colour, x-height and roughly the same horizontal proportions as the original Bree, because the sans and serif need to be able to work alongside each other. Yet the design itself was completely re-engineered. Finding the appropriate size and shape of the terminals was surprisingly harder than we expected and it actually took numerous tests. One of the most important compromises we had to make was the size of the extenders. Because of the underlying handwritten structure of letters ‘g’, ‘y’ and ‘z’, Bree (Sans) has very long descenders that were unsuitable for the primarily editorial purpose of its serif cousin. And to make matters worst, the ascenders in the sans version were way too short to fit a bulky serif in letter ‘d’ in Bree Serif. As a result, we modified the size of the extenders in the serif fonts, a decision that is arguably uncommon. But after several tests we concluded that this worked for the benefit of the new fonts.”
The design of Bree Serif mines the ideas imbued in its sans serif predecessor. Its upright italic structure gives the face a friendly appearance. Young, energetic and hip, it invites the reader with elegant charm. The six weights with matching italics function as perfect counterparts to the original Bree sans serif styles. However they also bring a palette of new, individual features to the table, making Bree Serif an individual type family in its own right. The Bree Serif letter forms maintain the original handwriting flavour, yet in a less pronounced way to support optimal editorial use. The slab structure of its serifs makes for a strong impression, particularly in the heavier weights. Some of the characteristic features of its sans serif cousin are still present in Bree Serif, such as the single-story ‘a’, the cursive ‘e’ and the rhythmical ‘k’ and ‘y’. Alternate forms for these idiosyncratic letters are available for when a more neutral look is desired. Bree Serif offers fluid, attractive forms that create a contemporary and vivid text image.