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Hannes Famira, teacher of Principles of Typeface Design: Pen to Pixel and Typeface Design: Open Studio, succinctly sums up the art of type design: “Crafting type demands a concentrated focus on the rhythm of positive and negative space, form and counter-form and the smoothness and tension of curves.” As the founder of a well-respected digital type foundry, Kombinat-Typefounders, he regularly puts those principles into practice. He has designed the logotype for Helmut Lang – a heavy sans serif typeface that was the result of painstaking study at Cooper Union’s Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography where he researched early versions of typefaces with similar qualities. Famira designed a custom-made typeface for Céline, another major fashion house, by interpreting metal type specimens of a 1931 font called Semplicità to create a digital font that the company uses for print and screen.
One of Famira’s classes, Principles of Typeface Design: Pen to Pixel, offers aspiring type designers a chance to begin developing their skills. Famira leads each student through the process of creating a working typeface, providing a fundamental understanding of how typefaces function, both technically and aesthetically, and experience in making them. Typeface Design: Open Studio is a more advanced class for people who have begun to grapple with the process of designing a typeface to push it further. Students work on their own projects in this course. The field of typeface design, Famira says, “combines a number of perceptual and conceptual challenges in such a pure and isolated form that it serves as virtual push-ups for the creative brain.” Those challenges, he points out, are useful for any creative thinker not just type designers.