CoType Foundry’s first serif Orbikular is a typographic workhorse abundant in character
The sixth typographic release from London-based CoType Foundry sees not only a fresh face, but a fresh footing. Orbikular – the foundry’s first serif – sets out to bridge the traditional and the contemporary with a comprehensive function-first family that greets its audience with both familiarity and originality.
A step away from his comfort zone, founder Mark Bloom tells us that “arguably, designing a serif is much more challenging than designing a sans serif but perhaps more rewarding too,” excelling himself straight out the bat, showing an expertise in attention to detail, legibility and contextual understanding.
Having worked in Farringdon prior to COVID restrictions, Bloom recalls spending his lunch breaks wandering around the borough looking at the vintage typography scattered across the prolific, time-honoured architecture of the area. Furthermore, on a work trip to New England where he visited Boston, Nantucket, Provincetown and Newport at the end of 2019, Bloom tells us he found himself “being inspired by hand-painted signage and gilded glass type on numerous shop fronts.”
With such a rich visual catalogue, Bloom set to sketching upon his return from the USA. “I started sketching out the basic A-Z for Orbikular in one weight,” he explains, “drawing on all the type inspiration I’d seen around me over the years;” with global inspiration from a Clerkenwell pub sign inspiring Orbikular’s superiors to a 1931 Nantucket real estate company’s hand-painted sign influencing the typefaces dramatic ampersand.
It is here that lies Orbikular’s strength; creating an intently functional typeface that whilst firmly asserting itself as a typographic workhorse is simultaneously abundant in character – from its cursive alternate ‘e,’ to the swooping long tail of its standard ‘Q.’ “My favourite features include the alternate long-tail ampersand and the superior D, O and T,” Bloom adds, “which allows the user to create some really interesting abbreviations such as LTD (Limited), CO (company), ESTD (Established) and ST (Street) for example.”
The cherry on top of Orbikular is the truly magnificent type specimen by publishing-design-legend Matt Willey. Befitting the broadsheet-esque aesthetic of the typeface, the Pentagram partner renowned for his adroit editorial design took his own spin on the specimen. “My initial idea was to design and print the whole thing in one colour (black) and print it on a salmon pink newspaper similar to the Financial Times,” Bloom recalls, adding “it was actually Matt’s idea to throw this traditional approach out of the window and instead design the type specimen in green and fluorescent orange ink, creating a fantastic overprint effect.”
Printed by Kent-based Identity Print on Fedrigoni Arena Natural Bulk 90gsm, the type specimen is available for free alongside all Orbikular Essential and Full Family purchases; with shipping to anywhere in the world.