Neutral typeface family

Aware that there is no such thing as total neutrality, this typeface explores how the absence of stylistic associations can help the reader to engage with the content of a text.

Neutrality can be regarded as an auxiliary construction that lets us describe things and events that appear free of connotations to a specific social and cultural group at a specific point in time. Because everybody’s backgrounds and expectations differ, however, the more closely we attempt to answer the question ‘What is a neutral typeface?’, the fewer people agree on various details, and the more the proposal of a neutral typeface becomes a paradox.

Measurement table

You could easily think that designing Neutral was much like a process of just blending different typefaces with each other. But apart from a list of design principles, all the measurements resulted only in a very loose scaffolding within which I had to draw the typeface.

Sen no Rikyū

Another source of inspiration were the ideas of 16th-century tea ceremony master Sen no Rikyū, who greatly influenced the wabi-cha style of chanoyu tea ceremony. This style tries to attain perfection in the essential aspects of the ceremony by the removal of anything which could divert the focus from the essential elements: the tea and the interaction of host and guests.

While the goal of the methodology designed to create this typeface was to abstract the design process away from me, in the end I was still the one who designed this process, who both formulated the questions and answered them. This would have been true regardless of whether ten or a hundred or a thousand comparisons and measurements had been made.

Use your words

Attempting a completely ‘Neutral’ typeface

Neutral began as Kai Bernau’s graduation project at KABK (the Royal Academy of Art), taking inspiration from typefaces that seem ageless, remaining fresh and relevant even decades after they were designed. It was constructed based on a set of parameters derived by measuring and averaging a number of popular 20th-century Sans Serif fonts. — typotheque.com

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