Anisette Pro Petite available at Typofonderie

In a similar way as serif typefaces, sanserifs or linéales are stated into the ATypI-Vox classification and don’t form a unique, static group. The most common subcategories are grotesque sans, humanist sans and geometric sans. But classifications are primarily constituents of a typographical taxonomy–terminology, that helps us to describe the usual and new typefaces and fonts Therefore, a typeface might be considered as similar, by analogy to this well known typeface, or can be simply described both formally and historically, or be represented through its most common uses: Gotham is a geometric sans published in 2002 by H&FJ, perfectly used for the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign. This is of course because of this planetary reference that we mostly retain what can represent this great typeface.

“It’s funny to see it used in a political campaign because on the one hand it’s almost too ordinary yet that’s the point. It has the sense of trustworthiness because you’ve seen it everywhere.” (John D Berry about Gotham)

But let’s go back to the topic of this post. Anisette has sprouted around 1995, as a way to test some ideas of designs. It has started with a simple line construction (not outlines as usual) that can be easily expanded and condensed in its width in Illustrator. Subsequently, this principle of multiple widths1 and extreme weights permitted to Jean François Porchez to have a better understanding with the limitations associated with the use of MultipleMaster to create intermediate font weights. Anisette has originally been only imagined with capitals, without any ideas about potential lowercases. It’s by a beautiful spring day of 2001, that Jean François, tired of drawing his high contrasted Didot, Ambroise, that he has decided to add lowercases to the Anisette. One month later, the typeface was launched.

Anisette Petite online specimen
Anisette Petite online specimen.

The 1996 version of Anisette, built around the idea of two widths capitals can be described as a geometric sanserif typeface influenced by the 30s and the Art Deco movement. Its design relies on multiple sources, from Banjo through Cassandre posters, but especially lettering of Paul Iribe. In France, at that time, the Art Deco spirit is mainly capitals. Gérard Blanchard has pointed to Jean Francois that Art Nouveau typefaces designed by Bellery-Desfontaines was featured before the Banjo with this principle of two widths capitals. The complementarity between the two typefaces are these wide capitals mixed with narrow capitals for the Anisette while the Anisette Petite – in its latest version proposes capitals on a square proportions, intermediate between the two others sets. Of course, the Anisette Petite fonts also includes lowercases too.

So, when Jean François Porchez has decided, five years later, to create lowercases the story became more complicated. His stylistic references couldn’t be restricted anymore to the French Art-déco period but to the shop signs present in our cities throughout the twentieth century. These signs, lettering pieces aren’t the typical foundry typefaces. Simply because the influences of these painted letters are different, not directly connected to foundry roots which generally follow typography history. The outcome is a palette of slightly strange shapes, without strictly not following geometrical, mechanical and historical principles such as those that typically appear in typefaces marketed by foundries. As an example, the Anisette Petite r starts with a small and visible sort of apex that no other similar glyphs such as n or m feature, but present at the end of the l and y. The famous g loop is actually inspired by Chancery scripts, which has nothing to do with the lettering. The goal is of course to mix forms without direct reports, in order to properly celebrate this lettering spirit. This is why the e almost finishes horizontally as the Rotis – and the top a which must logically follow this principle (the original version of this a is present in the stylistic set 3) and is drawn more round-curly. This weird choice seemed so odd to its designer that he shared his doubts and asked advise from Jeremy Tankard who immediately was reassuring:

“Oddly, your new a is fine, it brings roundness to the typeface, when the previous pushed Anisette Petite towards unwanted austerity.”

Anisette Petite 2001 versus Anisette Pro Petite 2013
Anisette Petite 2001 versus Anisette Pro Petite 2013.

During the summer of 2011, the idea of a Pro version emerged. It’s Marc Rouault, passing time again at Typofonderie — for the second time within a few months — who relaunched the project again. Knowing that Marc was a beginner in typeface design, Mathieu Réguer has drove the renovation project in order to teach some basics to Marc. Indeed, the typeface “creation” part is often short (in the case of Anisette Petite, less than a month in 2001), while finishes and production take a relatively long time. This is especially true when we have to re-organize the original version of the Anisette, decline to Pro version and from a cleaned basis. It was very good for Marc to learn curves. After he left, the project has been put on stand by until the arrival of Jeremy Landes Nones who has taken over the project in early 2012. Closely monitored by Jean François Porchez, the project has slowly progressed throughout the year 2012, because Jeremy was also busy with some big ZeCraft projects such as the Cabinet d‘écriture Vuitton.. In 2013, Mathieu Réguer came back on the project, follows numerous exchanges with Jean Francois in order to make the right decisions and to publish it before the summer of 2013… finally in October 2013.

It’s impossible to directly extend an old design from before the OpenType era, without redoing everything. Many typefaces designers feel the same, such as Kris Sowersby for his great Hardys project published as Domaine:

“When the exclusivity for Hardys lapsed, I reassessed all aspects of the design—the typeface was completely redrawn to create Domaine.”

Therefore, the harder aspect explains Jean François, “is to refine without losing the original spirit, otherwise it’s another typeface: This was the case during the passage of the Charente (1999) to the Ardoise (2011).” The Anisette Petite escape from this phenomenon, and will remain the Anisette Petite. Clean up a typeface is crutial, without it, the variation in its Pro fonts version is not feasible and results become inconsistent. The revised curves2, regularized alignments. Long hours are required to complete all these points of details, but as well adding small caps, extra figures, and other ligatures variants. The new version of the Anisette Petite do no longer includes the minor contrast inconsistencies into the lowercases compared to the capitals. Horizontal weights have been improved for a greater presence into headlines. Of course, spacing and kerning pairs have also been revised and extended.

Anisette Petite OpenType features in action

Anisette Petite patterns and borders in action
OpenType features of the Anisette Pro Petite in action together with some patterns and borders.

The Anisette Petite, since its early days, is a mixture of non-consistent but charming shapes. Since then, the well known joys of OpenType allow variations and nuances accessible to users. This is why two main effects have been added:
1. Swashes – Some variants providing roundness and sympathy to swashes l and y.
2. Titling Alternates – Variants that strengthen the geometric style of the Anisette Petite: JQR aglr.
This is why the Art-Deco S (Stylistics and Stylistic Alternates set 2) is available in capitals, small capitals and lowercase lettersand also for the a which is steeper (Stylistic Set 3). Patterns elements are also added to let users design appropriate patterns and borders with the various weights of the Anisette Petite.

As explained by Tal Leming in his description of his creative process of Balto, designing typefaces takes time, lots of time. But what matters is not the means employed, but the result. And at Typofonderie, since long ago, as among our most passionate fellows, we love it: refining points of details that will be appreciated by only a few, including you, as you have been able to read this post until its very end.

Anisette Petite paired with Ambroise, Geneo, Le Monde Livre
The Anisette Pro Petite is generally more consistent with traditional serif typefaces, such as the Ambroise, Le Monde Livre, Geneo This is less the case with slab serif such as the Mislab or other sanserifs available at Typofonderie.

Enjoy Anisette Pro Petite A geometric sanserif font with Art déco flair in 9 weights, exclusively available at Typofonderie.

Anisette Petite available immediately into the OpenType Pro version at Typofonderie

Availability of the new typeface family

Anisette Petite OpenType fonts are available in our exclusive PRO and STD fonts version
Download the Anisette Petite specimen.
→ € 45 by style, STD version
→ € 55 by style, PRO version
→ € 119 for the 4 basic weights, version STD
→ € 146 for the 4 basic weights, version PRO
→ € 243 for the Full family, version STD, 9 styles
→ € 297 for the Full family, version PRO, 9 styles

Anisette Petite in use

As a tradition, at Typofonderie, we test a new typeface family on various applications, using existing designs. Its the final part of any project and its great fun for us. See our Fonts in use section for more.

Anisette Petite used in a Blue Notes sleeve, Eric Dolphy – originally designed by Reid Miles + Francis Wolff

Anisette Petite fit naturally the original design layout, alignements with the original photo works well.

→ More about Blue Note and Reid Miles + Blue Note sleeves.

Anisette Petite used in advertisement of the SNCF

We used a successful campaign created by TBWA for SNCF as basis, simply because it was originally set in Avenir and interesting to compare.

Anisette Petite used in a Il Manuale tipografico page originally made by Giambattista Bodoni

This time, using Il Manuale tipografico as source by Giambattisa Bodoni was in fact more difficult task than just fun. Difficult to set in so narrow column. At the end, its an irreverent homage, set in reverse.

→ More about Giambattista Bodoni + Octavo + Taschen.


On Classification by Indra Kupferschmid
Anisette (by Gérard Blanchard).
Jeremy Tankard
The rich diversity of Deberny et Peignot’s specimens
L’Arabesque de Paul Iribe
Domaine Design Information
The Development of Balto

1 This principle of two widths capitals has been inspired by the beautiful Banjo designed by Maxilimien Vox as a typeface accompanying the Futura, published as the Europe by Deberny and Peignot in the 30s.

2 Drawing on 30” screen makes possible to see some details that’s wasn’t on a 19” CRT screen, not to mention the limitations of Mac OS 8, the non-smoothed display, and the magnification of Fontographer limited to 200 %.