Jakob Runge is a graphic designer and typographer in Munich. Together with Nils Thomsen, he owns and operates the TypeMates foundry. With a strong focus on diversified and tailor-made type designs for a wide range of clientele, TypeMates is passionate about well-made letterforms that are held to the highest technical standard, ensuring that graphic designers who use their fonts will receive the best products possible.
Two of TypeMates’ most recent releases are Urby and Urby Soft, a collection of sans serifs designed by Jakob Runge. The primary concept for both is one that combines striking character with technical functionality. The juxtaposition between the letterforms’ energetic, dynamic profiles and geometric construction make Urby and Urby Soft particularly novel choices for branding or identity that relates to sports, indoor or outdoor physical activity, energy, and technology.
“Urby was designed to have strong character in every single glyph and — as in branding — give a boisterous and recognizable voice to text,” Jakob told us. With their wide apertures and organic stroke endings, Urby and Urby Soft imbue an atmosphere of playfulness wherever they are applied. “It was fun to finally have the chance to focus on the beauty of single letters,” Jakob said. “Most times I’ll have to take care of the system, the big picture; with Urby I had a party with each letter.”
“Identical character widths for tabular figures are nothing new, but for me the idea of text with equal width in each weight was,” Jakob admitted. His approach to Urby and Urby Soft has made them both especially well suited for interface design because the differing weights and styles effortlessly maintain visual continuity and remove any need for text reflow.
This design concept was certainly not without its share of challenges. “Under the slogan ‘not mono, but duplex’, the letter ‘i’ was the Gordian knot,” he explained. “The spacing of the black weight has to be super tight in this letter to be as compact as possible for the light, the light which has to be as loose as possible to work for the black.” This became a compromise of sorts and a change in Jakob’s thinking, not merely spacing the letter shapes but redefining the actual shapes in order to maintain the spacing.
Where Urby takes a more straight-edged stance, Urby Soft offers rounded corners and the two variations complement one another perfectly. Each is available in five weights that include Thin, Light, Regular, Bold, and Black for great versatility. Urby and Urby Soft offer contextual alternates, case sensitive forms, standard ligatures, ordinals, numerator, denominator, slashed zero, and tabular figures. Multilingual support extends to Basic Latin, Western European, Euro, Catalan, Baltic, Turkish, Central European, Romanian, Pan African Latin, Dutch, and Basic Greek for exceptional worldwide accessibility.
TypeMates currently offers 15 products through YouWorkForThem and if you love Urby and Urby Soft, you should check out their portfolio to view the rest of their work. Jakob just added Cera Round Pro, and he’s busy working on future releases. The duplex or uni-width concept –the idea of text with equal width in each weight — is really on Jakob’s mind at the moment.
“For 2018 I plan to release a huge typeface system that comes also as variable font format to support various axis within the OpenType Font Format specification version 1.8,” Jakob shared. “This will include axis for various weights — also duplexed — various widths and also a possibility for tuning the optical sizes of the font at different font sizes.” For the time being, this is more of a concept than an actual design, but it certainly gives us much to look forward to.