From Scandinavia to Switzerland: 6 contemporary, classic and experimental type foundries from Europe
In our continuous celebration of all things type, we felt it was only fitting that we took the time to highlight and appreciate some of our favourite foundries. For starters, we’re turning our attention to our home continent – Europe! From the contemporary and experimental to the classic and functional, the foundries we’ve picked exemplify the exciting diversity of styles and approaches on offer from the contextually-rich continent.
TYPE.WELTKERN® is a Swiss foundry, and part of WELTKERN®’s unique shop, publisher and loyalty programme hybrid. For those who publish fonts with them, WELTKERN®’s type foundry pays a much better percentage of licence sales than the average, under the platform’s primary goal of valuing the important creators behind their products and to better distribute the revenue share of everything they produce and publish. At launch, TYPE.WELTKERN® released TWK Everett by Nolan Paparelli and TWK Lausanne by Nizar Kazan, shortly followed by Paparelli’s TWK Ghost.
Starting out as a post-university collaborative initiative, AllCaps made the decision to formalise their practice with the release of their first four typefaces; Youth, Modern Gothic, Rhetorik Sans and Rhetorik Serif. Founded by Ondrej Bachor and Jan Novák, and supported by Sascha Bente, Malte Bentzen, Sylvan Lanz and many other collaborators, the foundry works remotely across countries and timezones, though primarily located in Prague and Berlin. For them, “drawing is designing,” an ethos imbued throughout their practice and design process. Their first four releases showcase this ethos, as well as their formal training in both type design and graphic design, which is also demonstrated in their collaborations with clients such as Afterall Journal, Daly & Lyon, ECAL, Lamm & Kirch, Les Urbaines and Nike.
BB-Bureau, both a type-driven design studio and type foundry, are well known for their experimental and characterful fonts. Coming from a self-taught typographic practice, founder Benoît Bodhuin’s approach is unusual, unshackled and brilliantly unconventional. The Nantes-based designer implements restraint playfully in the forms and structures of his typefaces, such as the perfectly geometric inner counters of Ballpill. His typefaces have been featured in Studio Elana Schlenker’s Skyline Mini Golf, and TRY’s Innom, to name just a couple of projects.
Piero Di Biase founded Formula Type – based in Udine, Italy – in 2022, as an extension of the commercial typographic practice he established at graphic design office Multi Form (formerly Think Work Observe). Creating both retail and custom fonts, Di Biase’s bespoke typefaces include a modular typeface for cooperation platform Shared Campus and a monospaced sans serif for Wired Magazine inspired by military airport signage; while retail releases include the wood type-inspired sans serif Supplement.
Situated in the heart of Copenhagen, Playtype is an award-winning type foundry led by type designer and typographer Jonas Hecksher. With more than twenty years of creating retail and custom-made typefaces under their belt, the foundry have garnered a reputation for creating fonts that capture voice, personality and imagination. Focusing on usable typography, Playtype’s goal is to create type that balances both aesthetical astuteness and function. Perfect for branding applications, many of their typefaces have appeared in projects that we’ve showcased, such as Heydays’ generative identity system for Scandinavian digital marketing agency Generaxion as well as their own self-initiated positivity-sparking project Supernews.
The beautiful Norwegian city of Bergen and the ‘capital of the Fjords’ is home to the independent type foundry and consultancy Gradient. Launched in 2018 by Milos Mitrovic, their practice is driven by the belief that the deconstruction of traditional typography combined with various experiments can help to reimagine the future of contemporary typography. This ethos is reflected in their production of high-quality typefaces and type systems, which have appeared in projects by renowned studios such as Saint Urbain and Pentagram.