The Designers Foundry and David Einwaller detail the development of their serif typeface Morion
Six years on from David Einwaller’s initial sketches in 2014, serif typeface Morion re-released via The Designers Foundry in 2020 as a revised, extended and reconsidered family of six weights for use at both text and display sizes. To mark the one-year anniversary of its re-release, the pair have launched a vibrant double-sided poster; and caught up with us to speak about the typeface’s development over the years.
EM How did you come together to release Morion through The Designers Foundry?
DE I’ve been working with The Designers Foundry since 2014 after they had seen a typeface I developed at university, it was a big step for me to release it as my first font with TDF. Over the following years remaining in close contact with TDF they always supported me in the process of designing new typefaces. It’s just felt very natural to work with them, also because they really pushed me to design promotional material like a raincoat and a fancy specimen later on.
DM We first saw David’s work early in the development of TDF, we were drawn to his unique approach to traditional genres of type design, Morion drafts being an example of this. We reached out and asked if he’d like to work together on a release. David’s first release with us was Neue Droschke. Time went by and after a fair bit of work, we had the second release; Morion, in two styles with an accompanying printed specimen and raincoat.
It was a hit and featured on a number of design publications and had a good number of license sales. The positive reception encouraged the redevelopment of Morion into the wider family you see today.
We were drawn to his unique approach to traditional genres of type design.
EM What was the original plan for Morion, and how did it change throughout its development?
DE To be honest, when I first started working on Morion back in 2015, I didn’t have exact plans for the typeface – not even for releasing originally. Over time we started seeing potential in a transitional serif typeface that is neither too text-heavy, nor too display-ish. I think the positioning was solid and the two first weights released in 2017 had a good resonance. Nevertheless, I was always slightly frustrated with the quality of the fonts, I grew so much as a type designer with the project and incoming requests of italics or lighter weights, these were the perfect motivation to keep refining and extending Morion.
DM With the re-release in 2020, the goal was to push the capabilities of Morion and respond to the requests of our clients. There wasn’t really much dramatic change throughout the process, what needed to be done was clear, however, there were many finer details and elements to consider, I’m sure David had some sleepless nights, but we helped him through.
The additional weights and italics gave Morion a stronger holding in the genre of a text typeface and fine-tuning details enhanced the display nature of the typeface. David worked very hard on the balance.
EM What was the most challenging part of the process?
DE The first two weights of Morion were drawn in a more display-ish kind of manner – while I was extending the font family after the first release we decided to head into a slightly more text-based direction to increase usability. Revisiting so many details, reducing contrast and also changed the proportions to more traditional ones was tricky to do while ensuring it still felt like Morion. So essentially making it perform in smaller point sizes and text settings, while not neglecting the original design, was by far the most difficult part.
EM What are your favourite parts of the typeface?
DE Keeping in mind that Morion started as my first serif typeface over six years ago, I’m quite happy with the rhythm that it developed over time. A geometric approach to curves is not ideal when it comes to readability and consistency in a line of text, but now it feels like a modern approach to digital serifs. Other than this, I like the look of the thin weight, especially when it’s set big and tight. It’s still quite unusual to have serif designs this thin, and obviously, this is where the skeleton shines most. Overall I think Morion does a good job of bridging the gap between text and display fonts, without being either too boring in big size, or creating too much noise in smaller sizes.
EM What have both parties’ individual roles been throughout the development and expansion of the Morion family?
DE Mine was obviously more designing the font and taking care of the technical aspects, TDF and Daniel did an amazing job supporting me in a mental state as well as in a promotional aspect. In the beginning, we talked a lot about the perfect weights and what the font should be able to ‘accomplish,’ we also worked with Paul Troppmair, a type designer who was especially guiding the mastering process. I worked on the Morion specimen and the foundry took care of the perfect presentation and strategy to present the font family.
DM David is an excellent, knowledgeable designer, so we didn’t need to really get involved directly in the development of the font software. We offered feedback and focused primarily on testing and the rollout of Morion and the production and distribution of the physical goods.
We gave David these sizing limitations and then let him design whatever he liked.
EM Morion’s specimen is quite unusual in that it feels more like a book than a typical specimen. How did the idea to do it that way develop?
DE I’m working a lot in book design at the moment, and whenever I choose typefaces for books, I need to make sure they really work well. At the same time, this process can be reverse engineered to proof a font to its bone. Books often feature many hierarchies, type sizes and obviously, they need a very readable font – this setting was perfect for testing and showcasing Morion at the same time. Plus I always wanted to make something more conceptual out of an ordinary specimen, since I always feel the need to produce something meaningful when print resources are used in the end.
DM International shipping out of New Zealand is very, very expensive. So to distribute the specimen in large numbers it had to be considered a ‘letter’ which was defined as less than 200grams, 1cm thick and under A5 in size. At this size we can send one copy anywhere in the world for about $4.20, any larger and the price jumps up to about $22.
We gave David these sizing limitations and then let him design whatever he liked and we would produce it; the result being the specimen you see. The result is awesome and has been hugely popular, David did an awesome job. We’re soon due to print our 4th edition.
EM What inspired the multi-coloured design of the Morion anniversary poster?
DE For the launch of Morion type family in 2020 we decided to go 100% black and white with all designs and promotional material. Not only because we wanted to let the fonts speak for themselves, but also because we knew it’s a good sign when type attracts and performs well without the use of colour, graphical effects etc. So for the anniversary, this was an obvious thing to break up. I took the idea quite literally and so the poster doesn’t feature any black ink now at all.
DM David and I have a strong relationship of producing goods together and with Morion being one of our most popular typefaces and almost a year since we last made something together (the eight years of TDF air freshener), it felt like a good time to make something else.
We wanted to do something to celebrate the anniversary of the re-release. Being a milestone it makes us think of where we’ve come from and also where we are going, which inspired the quote on the poster and the graphic of the person/earth looking forward.