In September 2011 Fast Company introduced three new typefaces to their print publication.
Kaiser, Zizou Sans and Zizou Slab were all commissioned from Commercial Type by Fast Company’s creative director Florian Bachleda as part of a design overhaul. Co. Design, one of the magazine’s online counterparts launched their redesign four months later, using specially hinted versions of Kaiser and Zizou Slab to great effect.
Conceptualised by Christian Schwartz and Florian Bachleda as a hybrid of a condensed sans they discovered in an old German specimen book and Paul Renner’s Plak, it was expanded into a full range of widths by Vincent Chan.
Christian Schwartz gives us a glimpse into his Zizou Sans design process:
It originally began as my attempt to draw Antique Olive from memory, but ended up with its own distinct personality. I surprised myself with what I remembered correctly (i.e. the swing to the top of the bottom bowl in the lowercase a, and the distinctive top of the lowercase t), but was impressed by just how wrong I was able to get certain things. So much for my photographic memory for type!
Schwartz on the design of the slab serif version:
I decided to start from the simplest place I could – snapping rectangular slabs onto the sans with a minimum of contrast – to see what that would yield before I tried to be any more clever with the design.
Almost too easy!
I always find it fascinating how a font looks exponentially more interesting and lively seen in use compared to a plain specimen, don’t you think?