Fontwerk’s characterful sans serif West combines geometry, modernism and a hint of art deco
The result of a challenge to base the construction of individual letters off completely unique forms to one another, Berlin-based type foundry Fontwerk’s West is unprecedented in its architecture. In a beautiful and somehow incredibly coherent culmination of geometric, modernist and pragmatic inspirations, West brings the latter to the 21st century in a display of fun, function and fastidiousness.
From the mind of typographic designer Daniel Perraudin, the regular irregularity of the typeface is maintained through the variation of its character widths, titles and strokes; balanced in a harmony that can contain the inclusion of wild and unusual glyphs without losing its coherency in the process – injecting flavours of contemporary monospaced typefaces and art deco frivolity along the way.
“It’s a completely new design,” designer Daniel Perraudin tells us, “however it’s always good to know your peers,” he adds, recalling his analysis of notable geometric sans serif typefaces in the process of West’s design, citing Kabel, Erbar Grotesk and Futura as examples. As a result, the unique construction of West takes influence from both historical and contemporary typefaces, such as its more classically proportional x-height, whilst often referencing the proportions of contemporary monospaced typefaces. “It tries to find unique answers to constantly recurring, archetypical questions of geometric sans serifs,” Perraudin explains, “while still adding a very modern feel to it.”
From Black to Hairline, with corresponding italics and the option of variability for each, there are nine individual weights of West, giving the typeface an incredible range and infinite possibility in its application. This is made possible by the meticulousness of Perraudin and the unparalleled attention to detail given to the project. “The devil is (as always) in the details,” he tells us, responding to the innately straightforward aesthetic of the typeface. “West has some pretty distinct proportions that stand out more and more the lighter the typeface gets,” Perraudin adds, such as the narrow proportions of the ‘a’ and ‘s,’ especially in comparison to the breadth of an accompanying ‘g.’ “Getting these proportions to work harmoniously throughout the whole range of weights was probably the most challenging part of the design,” he concludes; a challenge worth overcoming, resulting in a powerful typeface that somehow finds the balance between complexity and simplicity.