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Italics, Buenos Aires and Coko?
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January 28, 2017

Italics, Buenos Aires and Coko?

Part of the identity of The Collaborative Knowledge Foundation is the use of the free, libre and open source typeface called Montserrat. This typeface which is often compared to Proxima Nova for it’s charming utility, is a useful typeface, loved by many web and UI designers.

Montserrat Regular specimen by Julieta Ulanovsky
We chose for the Montserrat typeface for its geometric but at the same time outspoken character without losing practicality, usability and scalability. It is a functional and contemporary typeface but it does not neglect design aspects and is able to combine this with happy and open character that gives it appeal and attractiveness. The result is a sans serif typeface with multiple variants and multiple possibilities of use, both in the publishing world as well as for branding etc.

Montserrat Bold specimen by Julieta Ulanovsky

Originally designed by Julieta Ulanovsky, a designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina the Montserrat typeface is based upon the old posters and signs in the city of Buenos Aires and especially the neighbourhood of Montserrat. Julieta wanted to design a typeface that rescued the beauty of urban typography from the first half of the twentieth century. Julieta says “As urban development changes this place, it will never return to its original form and loses forever the designs that are so special and unique. To draw the letters, I rely on examples of lettering in the urban space. Each selected example produces its own variants in length, width and height proportions, each adding to the Montserrat family. The old typographies and canopies are irretrievable when they are replaced.”

Photo by Julieta Ulanovsky
Between 1925 and 1950 unique typography starts to emerge in the city of Buenos Aires. It has a strong geometric and architectural quality and shows itself as grand and imposing. The typography of that era defines the city and its landscape for decades to come. But slowly this rich history is fading away and it being replaced with generic brands and interchangeable facades.

Photo by Julieta Ulanovsky
We believe the creation of the Montserrat typeface is a noble cause that also fits with our goals – to build open source tools to improve knowledge and research output. The Montserrat typeface draws on a rich history of craftsmanship and local knowledge to combine and preserve these in a new, open source and free typeface ready for use in the most modern environments. Since the typeface has been created many other designers have added additional weights to the typeface. The original Montserrat Project has the full support of the Google Web Fonts team, who have reviewed its technical details and hand-hinted the typeface to ensure it works perfectly as a web font.

The Montserrat typeface was missing italic typefaces, so we asked our visual identity designer Henrik van Leeuwen to develop these missing italics. Together with two of his former type design students, Nóri Békés and Daan Kars from the Royal Academy of Arts in the Hague, the Netherlands they designed and hand-hinted an italics light, an italics regular and an italics bold Montserrat typeface that can be used together with all the other weights of the Montserrat typeface.

Of course, we also have made these italics available as open fonts for anyone to use. Everything we produce, including fonts, is open.

You can download the typefaces here and read more about the kickstarter project of the Montserrat typeface here.

Post by Adam Hyde