The Brand Identity

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Javas Lehn Studio’s refresh of Surface Magazine comes courtesy of a beautiful bespoke typeface

Covering the art and design world from architecture and travel to art and fashion, Surface Magazine is a container of contemporary culture; and having gone through 154 issues, it was perhaps time for somewhat of a refresh. Being the existing designers and creative team behind the magazine, New York City-based Javas Lehn Studio, used their previous issues of Surface as an experimental playing field to push the editorial boundaries of what they were doing. “With Issue 155 we looked at a variety of concepts, some more of a drastic change to the look and feel than others,” founder Javas Lehn explains, “where we landed was a design language that did not feel foreign to the previous look and feel of Surface but felt more refined and dynamic.” 

Alongside new photographic styles and fresh typographic systems, the refinement in question comes primarily at the courtesy of a bespoke typeface developed as an extension of the logotype itself – made in collaboration with Amsterdam-based type foundry Bold Decisions. “Our Senior Designer Joseph Margulies was leading the creation of the logotype,” Lehn recalls, “once the logotype was approved, we started to look at extending this into a working display face.” The end result is a typeface simply succinct; a sturdy, sophisticated yet primarily understated construction that can both brilliantly take priority on the page, and take a step back in support of content.

Supporting Surface Sans is F Grotesk by Radim Pesko, taking full advantage of Javas Lehn Studio’s remarkable editorial system in place, whilst mirroring the refined tone of voice the magazine exudes. “We also used Sainte Colombe by Production Type which was a carryover from our previous work on Issue 154,” Lehn adds, “it provided an interesting contrast to Surface Sans and F Grotesk.”

Thriving in the timely constraints akin to publishing and editorial design, Lehn recalls that the conditions in place naturally lead to a more interactive process in terms of layout and content design. “I have always enjoyed this,” he concludes, “I think it can be a crucial element to arriving at a solution that feels considered and nuanced.”

Typefaces: Surface Sans by Javas Lehn Studio and Bold Decisions / F Grotesk by Radim Pesko / Sainte Colombe by Production Type
Design Director: Javas Lehn Studio
Art Director: Scott Massey
Designer: Joseph Margulies
Type Consultant: Bold Decisions
Photography: Craig McDean

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