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Ludwig Übele finds his way to Type Network

With an almost obsessive focus on readability, LudwigType, the one-man foundry from Berlin, fits right in at Type Network.

Ludwig Übele already showed a keen interest in typography while studying graphic design at Augsburg College. Afterward, in the five years he spent working as a designer, Übele noticed that he always enjoyed the typecentric jobs the most. In 2006, he finally gave in to his passion. Putting his career on hold, Übele enrolled at Type and Media, the postgraduate course in typeface design at the KABK in The Hague. Barely one year after graduating, Marat—the type family he developed at Type and Media—received a prestigious Certificate of Excellence in Type Design from the Type Directors Club in New York. It was also included as one of the best typefaces of the decade in ATypI’s Letter.2 type-design competition.

Though a master of digital production tools, Übele favors pencil and paper for sketching his ideas and quickly trying out concepts for typefaces. He never has any preconceptions when he commits the first lines and shapes to paper. Instead, he lets his drawings evolve organically: Will this become a text or a display face? Will it be a typeface for posters, for branding, for editorial design? This freedom allows Übele to come up with novel approaches to a wide variety of typographic categories. And although his typefaces have distinct personalities, they never get in the way of readability and usefulness. Some reveal their uniqueness only upon closer scrutiny.

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Surprisingly, Marat, designed by Ludwig Übele while at Type and Media, started as a sans serif before evolving into a serif typeface. Only much later did Übele revisit his original concept to create Marat Sans.

A case in point is Marat, which began life as a sans serif. Little by little, iteration upon iteration, the original drawings inched toward lively serif forms. Thanks to their moderate contrast and strong serifs, the lighter weights take on the qualities of a typewriter-like slab, yet the underlying structure squarely adopts contemporary Antiqua (to use the German term) proportions. The alternating angular and rounded corners give Übele’s elegant typeface a friendly appearance. Tense curves make the sinuous italics simmer; they perfectly complement the roman cuts. The weight distribution in the heaviest weights reveals the adroitness with which Übele balances form and counterform—utilitarian features like ink traps (and other solutions to avoid clogging) become dramatic, surprising design traits.

Years later, with Marat Sans, Übele returned to his original concept for Marat as a sans serif. But rather than simply decreasing the contrast and removing the serifs, he carefully revisited the design to create compact, round letterforms that are persuasive at larger sizes. With excellent legibility as his main focus, Übele increased the x-height and made the capitals narrower. Strong, independent typefaces in their own right, together Marat Sans and the original Marat form a versatile, elegant superfamily whose lighter weights perform admirably as workhorse text faces, and whose robust, genial character turns it into a quietly original headline type. The serif and sans-serif companions make an excellent choice for editorial design that runs the gamut from books to newsletters and magazines, in print and online. They also work well for corporate branding and complex typographic jobs like annual reports.

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Riga also comes in the screen-optimized, carefully ClearType-hinted Riga Screen, with sligtly wider proportions for comfortable reading and a simplified lowercase g, accessible in the original Riga as a stylistic alternate.

With the space-saving Riga, the Dutch influence Übele absorbed during his year at Type and Media is perhaps most prominently on display. The humanist letterforms veil an ever-so-subtle calligraphic quality. As with all of his designs, optimal legibility is Übele’s main preoccupation here. This concern manifests itself in Riga’s open apertures and generous x-height, qualities that enabled Übele to adopt narrow proportions for the letterforms without compromising their legibility. Riga is a practical and economical typeface that will fit snugly in narrow columns and tight headlines. It’s exceptionally readable in small sizes and elegant when used big. And its unobtrusive, clear appearance makes it very versatile.

Riga Screen has been optimized for onscreen writing and reading, as well as for general office use. Slightly lighter, with wider proportions and a simplified lowercase g, this special cut of Riga has been carefully ClearType-hinted to guarantee optimal rendering on screen-based devices. A succinct family with just Regular, Italic, Bold, and Bold Italic styles, Riga Screen is particularly useful in office applications. It also pairs nicely with Riga in more complex settings.

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The fun, funky Daisy explores just how far a letter’s counter can be reduced to a thin line. It offers unique lettershapes and delightfully distinctive swash capitals.

Just because Übele strives to make his typefaces as serviceable as possible doesn’t mean he can’t have fun with his creations. Borrowing design principles from fat faces, the heaviest weights of neobaroque Didones, he conjured up a jovial display typeface with peculiar shapes. The concept for Daisy came from a drawing Übele made of a single lowercase c that explored the question of whether or not a letter’s counter could be reduced to a thin line defining the ball terminal. Übele went on to apply the concept consistently throughout the alphabet, spawning a plethora of happy, high-contrast characters featuring stubby serifs and big smiles that literally underline the bulbous terminals. By making the slit-like counters sufficiently thick, Übele ensured that the upright Daisy and its swinging italic remain remarkably readable in comparatively smaller sizes, too. The Type Directors Club of New York awarded Daisy with a Certificate of Excellence in Type Design in 2011.

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LudwigType’s type families come equipped with many useful typographic extras.

“I’m so excited to welcome Ludwig Übele to Type Network,” said General Manager Paley Dreier. “This addition brings yet another exciting foundry to our growing family. I’m eager to see Ludwig’s thoughtful typefaces used by our creative customers.”

All LudwigType fonts are available for print, web, applications, and ePub licensing. Webfonts may be tested free for thirty days. To stay current on all things LudwigType, subscribe to Type Network News, our occasional email newsletter featuring font releases, foundry happenings, type and design events, and more.