Type foundry Fontsmith has launched FS Industrie, a new adaptive type system designed around five different widths and seven different weights, creating a total of 70 different variants (including italics).
Fontsmith’s type design director Phil Garnham provides some context behind the new release: “We are on the cusp of a new age in digital typeface design where the ability to vary a font’s weight and width axis offers limitless possibilities to graphic designers within any given space.”
Much has been said about truly variable fonts since the idea was first introduced in September 2016. Yet fast-forward 18 months and the technology is still in development. As well as new fonts, designers will need rendering engines, browsers and design tools, all working together to deliver on the promise offered by variable type. Until that happens, FS Industrie shows us the future.
Inspired by classic German fonts from the 1930s, FS Industrie has a precise and direct feel but, in typical Fontsmith style, without ever sacrificing its humanity. Designed by Phil Garnham and Fernando Mello, it has a classic sense of functional utility delivered with a progressive view of where type is heading.
Crucially in the design of FS Industrie, each width and weight is drawn by hand. Variable type requires both a systematic approach and a focus on craft. Terminals that are closed in the condensed glyphs open out in the wider widths. The design adapts as it moves across the system, ensuring each variant can play to its unique strengths while also pairing perfectly with its siblings.
The project began with the Fontsmith design team asking some fundamental questions about the role fonts might play in these new platforms. They also considered how designers might use typography in more interesting ways across the full range of brand and marketing communications, not just in digital and screen-based media. Phil added: “It is the spirit of variable design and flexibility that drove us to create FS Industrie. A response to the changing nature of type, for brands that are responding to the changing nature of work”.