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December 13, 2011 - 13:28

The story of Antwerp

Antwerp Typeface


Antwerp is a 16th-Century typeface with contemporary proportions. The design is a free spirited amalgamation and interpretation of the all inspiring archives of type on display in the Museum Plantin-Moretus in the Belgian city Antwerp — hence the font's name.

The typeface was developed as part of Kubel’s studies at the Expert class Type design 2010–11 at Plantin Institute of Typography. The concept behind the typeface was to create a contemporary family of text typefaces with historical references. The final design incorporates a large x-height and has a warm appearance on the printed page as well as on screen.

The first drawings were done by hand on paper before it was developed into digital format, on screen in FontLab. The family of typefaces evolved slowly over a period of ten months during my many journeys between London to Antwerp. The final set of typefaces has been designed as OpenType fonts and features many number styles  including old style figures (non aligning numerals) plus a large set of ligatures and fractions. Antwerp is available in 5 weights with sophisticated 19° Italic styles as companion and supports extended Latin A language settings (Eastern European).


In Kubel's own words

"My passion and admiration for 15th and 16th century Italian, French and Dutch typefaces might shine through in Antwerp — I acknowledge that it has become an integral part of my ‘type dna’ — It’s how I design letters, fonts, alphabets and it’s also a direct translation of how I draw type by hand on paper — in other words, I have been conditioned by history!

I set out to design a typeface with a solid range of weights giving designers and art directors maximum choice: Light, Regular, Medium, SemiBold & Bold + Corresponding italic styles when typesetting books, newspapers and magazines. The importance and focus on detail in the individual glyphs are intentional and something I have spent a long time crafting. Large punctuation, slightly inclined stems, old style serifs and pronounced ink traps are all part of the underlying structure of my final font. The relatively large x-height* is a decision I made to bring my design more into the 21st century and essentially make fit with the current trends found in the design and advertising community.

*It is argued that a large x-height aids legibility although no conclusive studies have been published on this subject. I have tried to incorporate my love of handwriting and the flow of my own ‘shorthand’ into my Italic font(s). Normally an Italic typeface is between 7–15° slanted, my italic is 19° which is a feature I have been looking for when designing books and setting text myself. Since the introduction of digital type, italics have become less and less slanted and has in essence moved closer to the romans. From a technical and aesthetic point of view it’s understandable, however, in real life, when it comes to how type performs on the printed page and web as well; I call for italics with more contrast! After all since the 16th century Italic typefaces are used to highlight words and sentences in text – this is what my typeface does as well as of course keeping the proportions and overall structure of the roman.

Antwerp is in essence the culmination of all my scribbles, thoughts and research done over a period of many years — I acknowledge that it would not have been conceived had I not joined the Expert class Type design course under the guidance of Frank E. Blokland."

Design notes: Small Caps developed in collaboration with Jeremy Mickel

[test and preview Antwerp]