The trends in typography: increasingly flexible, often bold – and sometimes quite retro

The thing about trends is, they arise when a lot of people are enthusiastic about the same thing or an identical style. At some point, however, the trend becomes mainstream – and we find ourselves longing for more variety. New trends emerge, counter-trends form, and on top of that some people or brands find it advantageous to oppose trends completely. Typography is no exception.

Norbert Möller, Executive Creative Director

Generally speaking, typography is still an important topic. Although images and moving pictures are oftentimes easier to consume, it's clearly more sustainable to rely on writing to convey information. That's one reason new fonts continue to be created every day, especially since the creation and distribution of fonts has become much easier thanks to digital possibilities. Google Fonts now has 900 fonts for free use, most of which extend beyond the Latin writing system. The best example is the open source project "Noto." This font family stakes a claim for global functionality, and currently comprises 800 living and extinct languages as well as 100 font systems.

The trend towards diversity is also evident in the major new field of variable fonts, which will become even more important for digital media in the future. We are still accustomed to working with fixed font styles, for example with a "light" or "bold" weight. Or we use different widths, like "condensed" or "extended". Variable fonts, on the other hand, allow for more settings and adjustments, making it possible create any number of intermediate styles or weights. This not only increases flexibility, but also minimizes file sizes and loading times on the web. That's because the various font styles no longer have to be stored as individual files.

There are also exciting developments in the area of display typefaces. In the past this term referred to printed and screen typefaces that were based on the typometry of Antiqua and used as decorative typefaces in headlines. In the meantime, however, the term has become more generic and has come tom include writing fonts, brush fonts, outline fonts, fonts with scalable gradients and fonts for masking.

Which brings us to stylistic trends. My impression is that fonts are getting bigger and fatter all the time. Above all, the contrast between headline and body copy is often extreme. The bold letters are often filled with pictures and illustrations or used as a graphic design element, making legibility no longer really relevant. Alongside this "loud" trend, however, there is also a quiet one: sans serif fonts used in a minimalist design, in thin font sizes, slightly locked, mostly centered in the layout. They create an unagitated impression that allows images and messages to come into their own in the best possible way.

In urban living space, the trend towards the handmade continues – and this is in turn also reflected in typography. Designers all over the world are gripped by the hype surrounding calligraphy and hand-lettering. They form a kind of romantic counter-movement to digitization, which is increasingly penetrating the world of work and leisure. There's another reaction taking place: Designer are fleeing into an era in which everything digital was still exciting and new. The eighties and nineties are experiencing an aesthetic revival, and with them retro borrowings, neon styles and typography from the television series and video games of those decades. And in case you're not in the mood to participate in this trend, rest assured that, as I said at the beginning, there's always an acceptable counter-trend to fall back on.

This text has been published in "Passion" (3/2019), a magazine by BERLIN Druck.