It was a great temptation and challenge to design FF Mister K, a typeface inspired by manuscripts of Franz Kafka and named after main characters of the novels “Das Schloß” and “Der Prozeß.” Kafka’s manuscripts reveal a unique handwriting style with strong calligraphic features. Looking closer, glyph shapes derived from the Latin as well as the German script popular in Austro-Hungary at the beginning of the 20th century can be distinguished in different texts. In designing the typeface, a balance had to be found between Kafka’s strong and partly eccentric letterforms and new forms to enable a steady typographic flow. While FF Mister K is quite true to the original handwriting, FF Mister K Informal lessens the level eccentricity in favor of a friendly, readable appearance, supplying an excellent friendly alternative to the rather uncompromising FF Mister K.
Technically, FF Mister K is available in OpenType format and includes several hundred ligatures (including two-letter ligatures, as well as three and four-letter ligatures) reflecting typical sequences in different languages as well reducing formal repetitions. There are also alternate glyphs for “high,” “medium,” and “low” letter connections. Plus, there are stylistic alternates, allowing for different kinds of crosshatching, underlining, etc.
Not only for the sake of completeness, but also because of the influences Kafka took from Russian literature, especially Dostoevsky’s writing, Cyrillic characters have been added to FF Mister K Regular and Informal, using Kafka’s German script and popular Russian handwriting of the beginning of the 20th century as sources. An earlier version of FF Mister K Regular Cyrillic received a Certificate of Typographic Excellence at the International “Modern Cyrillic” type design competition.
FF Mister K Dingbats is a separate font containing a wide range of pictograms, from animals, plants, stars, famous buildings, faces, food, flags, arrows, to various symbols for sports, hobbies, professions, traffic, weather … you name it!
The FF Mister K typeface received the ISTD Premier Award from the International Society of Typographic Designers, based in London. The ISTD award is the only European design award exclusively devoted to typography, with participants from 17 countries submitting applications.
FF Mister K Informal also received a Certificate of Excellence in Typeface Design from the TDC in 2012.
FF Mister K Splendid (2014):
“… round cheeks, longish face, and a small, thick nose of the sort that never spoils Czech faces …” Franz Kafka was a master of descriptions. In his diaries and letters Kafka’s contemporaries live on in detailed characterizations, often spiced with irony. This one led to the birth of a new typeface pair — the FF Mister K Splendid:
“… two friends, one of them blond, resembling Richard Strauss, smiling, reserved, clever; the other dark, correctly dressed, well mannered yet firm, too dainty, lisped; both of them gourmets, kept drinking wine, coffee, beer, brandy, smoked incessantly, one poured for the other …”
Once again using Kafka’s handwritten literary oeuvre as a source, Julia Sysmäläinen created new Mister K family members with the lively charm of the two Danish friends: well dressed, well mannered, enjoying the pleasures of life, paired with little faults and exaggerations. It’s the positive and the less positive features together that makes them so sympathetic. The two make a splendid “semiperfect” pair in a Danish restaurant in July 1914 and also today as a type–face–duo bringing delight to large and small screens and to printed pages.
(Quotes from Kafka’s diaries 1911 and 1914).
FF Mister K supports 160 different languages such as Spanish, English, Portuguese, Russian, German and French in Latin and Cyrillic scripts. (Please note that not all languages are available for all formats.)