NaN’s Blade Runner-esque variable neo-grotesk NaN Holo warmly bridges humanity and technicality
NaN have bridged the versatile and the whimsical with their variable neo-grotesk release NaN Holo – a proportional-and-monospaced-style offering from the Berlin-based type foundry. From its bouncy curves and stark, rectangular counters to its machine-like consistency and biogenic, fleshy forms, NaN Holo’s combination and character is one rarely seen within typography, and one that distils the typeface with a charming tonality and warmth.
The inquisitive and challenging aesthetic and concept behind NaN Holo led its designers Luke Prowse, Jean-Baptiste Morizot and Fátima Lázaro to Blade Runner as the typeface’s spiritual companion – contemplating conscience, existence and the relationship between humanity and technicality. “As I started to explore and develop the fleshy detailing within the font mixed with the mechanical structure,” Prowse tells us, having originally drawn the typeface for Alexander Scholz’s magazine of the same name, “it started reminding me of the concept of a replicant or android per Blade Runner.” Expanding, Prowse notes, “Holo chimed with this man-machine or organic-synthetic hybrid,” he adds, recalling the cementation of the typeface’s name, “something simultaneously real and not.”
Discussing NaN Holo’s development processes, Prowse explains, “I think the first thing to say is we didn’t want to produce another bland grotesk,” instead seeking to craft something equally quiet and functional as it was original. The result is an extensive typeface family that manages to balance thorough and comprehensive character with finesse and reliability – giving it the flexibility to feel comfortable in any given context. “The essence of the formal structure doesn’t stray too far from so-called ‘functional’ neo-grotesks,” Prowse elaborates, “and so at small sizes the fleshy terminals and round detailing disappear,” noting the benefit of familiarity due to the latter. “Our plan was also to create something we could use across our new website in display and longer-form text,” he explains, including monospace labelling across the website’s hierarchy. “We were careful to prove that in reality,” Prowse concludes, “the extremely narrow widths, compressed to X-Condensed, are of course, for display use!”