Few weeks ago, we received the printed specimens of the recently launched Geneo. For this new typeface, we decided with Stéphane Elbaz to ask Félix Demargne, a talentued graphic designer, to design the new typeface specimen. We through that it would be a good thing to ask a few questions to the really first user of this wonderful typeface. Here after are his answers…

Interview of Félix Demargne

1. What is your background as graphic designer?

Cheeri is a graphic design studio that we have created with Jean-Baptiste Berthezène four years ago. We have done our studies together at École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (Ensad). Before embarking on the adventure with our company Cheeri, I worked in freelance and in agency mainly for cultural clients.

Fayard: collection french litterature, URCAUE: poster and sign design, graphism by Cheeri

We work in the most areas as possible while publication design is an important part of our everyday work, and despite our past studies pushed us more to cultural projects. We hope that while remaining generalist we could keep a certain “freshness” in our approach with the various kind of projects we can ancounter: poster, packaging, signage of, etc. We try to blend in with the needs of our clients without imposing too much our own graphic style. We try to work with the minimum of graphic tools. How — with these minimal tools — we are able to achieve different answers each time; without falling into ornamentation or pre definited style but rather trying to get to the point. In this sense, typography palies an important role in our work. If you heard that typography means structure and composition, it is at the heart of our job for its simplicity and fun.

It’s because we love typefaces themselves that we try to choose them with great care depending on our projects context. Even if we have our beloved typefaces stars at the studio, or preferences for certain foundries, then arises the question of how we have to make alphabets, sometimes several — which have an expression by themselves, an history, a commonly adopted use, etc. — interact with colors, a particular layout or otherwise. It is a back and forth game between these tools, including typography, with the final objective to bring the project to the tone we wanted, to match the client goals the most as possible.

2. What are the differences between designing a type specimen and your usual graphic design projects?

The main tool become the star! The central point on the specimen is the typeface, not the subject served by the typeface as it’s generally the case in graphic design. In graphic design, we can divert a typeface designed for a specific purpose to bring it elsewhere. That isn’t the goal in our present case, it is necessary to show its intrinsic capabilities. Without too much strong connotations to avoid to restrict the typeface to a particular purpose.

The Geneo specimen

3. What is the concept of your Geneo typeface specimen?

I’m not sure if we can refer to a concept. I wanted to highlight the versatility of Geneo. With the quality of its design and its expressiveness, Geneo calls for use in large sizes. Still, its well balanced structure serves the content, ideal for text settings. This is why I have mixed literary references, a period of French literature which can not be qualified as classic, but enough an important reference in readers minds to be able to play with words visually more easily. Also I used more contemporary digital references. The intention was to create a poster with the text and to show the contrasts in the family. As if we had set a text on screen, magnified to an extrem until to cause setting troubles. This is also why I used a dissonance color scheme to create slight visual vibration to the eyes (the tiny simultaneous contrast red/green creates the visual accident). I also wanted to highlight the work of Stéphane OpenType features, even if it is more common in fonts today. I think it is a peculiarity of Typofonderie to propose typeface families polished to an extrem. I wanted to show this part of the work, to see the possibilities and languages variations at once — it lent itself not so bad.

Felix Demargue

4. How the Geneo specimen project was put together?

Stéphane and I know well, we already worked together on some projects. I must say that I was free to do what I wanted: I was very happy to see how profond was his trustness. I suppose that given the amount of work involved on his side already on his Geneo, he had perhaps not wanted to get into new considerations around his typeface and he preferred to leave rather see what get out. But Stéphane wasn’t my main “client;” Typofonderie built sort of design specifications for its typeface specimens (size, folding, content rules) and also a color scheme in which I have picked up the Geneo colours. I have proposed a first round with three proposals around the same theme, based on that our constructive exchanges help to built a nice result.

Back of the Geneo specimen

5. What would be the ideal use of this typeface?

I’m already using it for a cosmetic packaging identity in progress. I can not say more but I think Geno did well its job. I do not know what would be its ideal use, it is hard to say. It’s a typeface which conveys a certain expressiveness which can fit a lot of different projects. It is how it will be combined with others typefaces that will determine its uses. However, if a new publisher is seeking a new identity for its literature collection called me, I will answer back that Geneo would suit well! It is a typeface that I will tend to use for qualitative projects, but who knows!

6. Your last words about Geneo?

It is a typeface, by the originality of its bias, clashes in the incessant production of todays.


→ Geneo: A robust oldstyle, an elegant slab, 18 styles.
→ Cheeri Félix Demargne’s graphic studio
→ Gazette: Geneo, a new design by Stéphane Elbaz.
Wallpaper set in Geneo
Typofonderie typeface specimens