Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature by Jean François Porchez

Audace (French word for audacious) is an attempt to reconsider, 20 years later, the 90s humanist sans serif style. Such style appeared in the 30s with now iconic typeface such as Gill Sans, but it was really with Frutiger around 1970 that it set itself up and paused the foundations of a great renewal in the 90s. Audace takes its roots from the 90s revival, but it goes further.

Influence in type design?

Typeface design is an art which could only live from its own rich history. Type revivals are a common things, from serious historically based on Garamond revivals to pseudo Helvetica, revival is a necessary step in a type designer’s professional journey. As it brings to the eyes of the typeface designers others shapes and references than its own personals vocabulary of forms.

So, when you start a new typeface, you’re naturally influenced by your type designer environnement, by what others have designed today or in the past. Your design is your answer to something that you like, or in the contrary a style or specific concept that you want to fight against. Type design is an attitude. To better understand your own identity, you unconsciously position yourself to claim affiliation to one stylistic group or another.

When you initiate a new project, your design is mostly influenced by shapes of existing letterforms, simply because you start by something as: I will design a Garamond or a Slab serif, then, you will ask yourself more precise questions: Italian Slab or American Slab? At some point, you end up opening this large specimen you have in your library to confirm your impulse or more simply to look for a specific source. But as designer, your creative process is also influenced by other external elements such as music, reading, art exhibits, piece of design, nature, your cultural environnement, and so on. Unlike type classification, typographic historic references, it is more difficult to put words in order to explain non-typographic references. Typefaces are naturally a collection of letters to be read, but also a collection of abstract forms linked by common design elements. But how can you describe their shapes, and therefore your deep feelings that have made it possible to create an abstract form that marks your style? It’s challenging.

  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature

Reconnecting Audace to its references

Audace was born as a response to a simple brief: how to visually express human interaction and technology with abstract forms? The starting point is a humanistic sanserif, to which are added external references: design pieces, furniture, buildings. Some designers are pushing the boundaries of form, such as Jørn Utzon, who goes beyond standard conventions. Architects shape our world with the intention to reconnect nature, human and address a perfect functionality. Not so far to typeface design which combines a personal vision and ensures good legibility in a certain context. Sculptors, type designer design the empty, the negative space, the counter-forms. In this regard, Frank Gehry says that he works from the inside out. “Beauty is the harmony of purpose and form. Form must have a content, and that content must be linked with nature” says Alvar Aalto. One century ago, during Art Nouveau, and Art and Crafts movement, designers wanted to bring back the natural forms inspired by nature into their designs. Subsequently, Eric Gill expressed his rejection of shapes built from the industry and machine production, functional geometry: “The business of the (ads) poster letters has not yet been extricated from the degradations imposed upon it by an insubordinate commercialism.” “Good will seem to be the common possession of mankind, but its complement, good sense, i. e. intelligence, critical ability, and that intense concentration upon precise perfection which is a kind of genius, is no so common.” In fact, he just demonstrates on his writings that we need more humanity and understand nature in order to influence shapes of letterforms for a better legibility. Many artists tried to fight against geometry which reduces expressiveness. The American artist Ellsworth Kelly defines himself as the antithesis of a geometric artist: “Geometry is moribund. I want a lilt and joy to art.” He was looking for perfection of form, purity of line, and think that negative space is important as positive.

Audace — like the works of those artists, designers, architects — is clearly influenced by the tension of the line, the play with negative space, the dynamics, the surprise, the nature that will influence the shapes of the letters. So if a v is asymmetrical, and the y based on similar asymmetry but in reverse, these two shapes help to distinguish from one to the other. This is a consequence of the influence of forms from design and art in the design of the Audace. And this small example illustrates the confrontations of the designer’s influences: the search for the most unique shapes, but without compromising on function: to be read, to be legible, even at very small size in the worst conditions.

  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature

The final stage of the Audace

I have started to work on Audace many years ago. It had to be published one day. So many details have been reconsidered, adjusted and improved, during this last recent phase but not the shapes themselves and its main characteristics. Last year, Dave Coleman based in Australia was in charge to conduct the production, to bring the typeface to the current Typofonderie standards in term of glyphs set, under the guidance of Benjamin Blaess one of our senior designer at Typofonderie. With Benjamin, we have taken over the the last stage of production, stabilizing the latest ideas, adding dingbats, organizing OpenType features, alternates and so on. The typeface family comprising 5 weights + one italic. The glyph set follow Typofonderie scheme: large glyph set including small caps, full latin language support, superiors, alternates, dingbats and so on. OpenType features includes: Fancy stylistic set, formal stylistic set and many others. The idea was to provide graphic designers and art directors with different nuances, creating atmospheres adapted to their needs as users of Audace.

Jean François Porchez

  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
  • Audace, between geometry & shapes inspired by nature
Audace: Availability of the new typeface family

Audace: Digital fonts now includes 800 glyphs per PRO font (versus only 250 glyphs for STD fonts), extended language support, 4 sets of numerals, capitals, small capitals, lowercases, superiors, ligatures, alternates, dingbats, etc.

The new Audace fonts in OpenType format are available in Std and ePub format as well as in the PRO version which is exclusive. the specimen pdf from Audace (Audace specimen) for all the details about advanced typography features. Download Try-out versions!

→ € 45 – € 55 for one of the Audace Std or Pro styles
→ € 119 – € 146 for the mini family of 4 Audace Std or Pro fonts
→ € 144 – € 176 for the Complete family Audace of 5 fonts Std or Pro

Audace in use

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

Cover version of an Ikea advertissement
Project: Cover version of an Ikea advertissement. Original was set in Verdana.

Cover version of Champions League new identity system
Project: Cover version of Champions League identity system originally by Design Studio.

Cover version of The National punk-rock band identity
Project: Cover version of The National punk-rock band identity originally designed by Luke Hayman, Pentagram.

Cover version of Modern by Dwell Magazine
Project: Cover version of Modern by Dwell Magazine originally by Collins.

Cover version of Deliveroo website
Project: Cover version of Deliveroo website originally by Design Studio.

Cover version of BoConcept commercial architecture and signage
Project: Cover version of BoConcept commercial architecture and signage.