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Rui Abreu’s font pays tribute to Portugal’s rich typographic heritage


t first glance, Lisbon, with its 270 days of sunshine a year, laid-back Latin approach to timekeeping and a lifestyle based around the sea, doesn’t have much in common with its northern European counterpart, Berlin” says Trish Lorenz. “But, thanks to an influx of young creatives attracted by the city’s affordable rents, thriving café and bar culture and an increasingly bohemian lifestyle, many commentators are beginning to brand Lisbon as ‘the new Berlin’” she adds. Furthermore, Lisbon is a city filled of typography and the lovers of this form of art. Lisbon is picturesque and the letter-forms are an element of this Mediterranean city which has become a hot spot for the creative crowd. Rui Abreu is one of them.

A type designer based in Lisbon, Abreu graduated in 2003 from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Porto, where he studied Communication Design. He became interested in type during his student years yet, with his latest project he is reminding the richness of typographic elements of the city’s past and present.

Dedicated to R-Typography, the type foundry he created back in 2008, Abreu provides custom typefaces for corporate clients. In 2009 Rui’s Orbe won a certificate of excellence from the Type Directors Club, and since then more awards followed, including two winning entries at Letter2 by Atypi in 2011, and a second TDC certificate in 2015.

His latest project Sul Sans is a geometrically constructed typeface with features observed in capital letters of signs and buildings in Portugal. “Taken separately, these features are obviously not exclusively Portuguese, they can be seen in Italy and Spain, but they do show up together and consistently, on several signs and buildings in Portugal. The name Sul (South), hints to a southern European flavor on a typically northern style of typeface” he says of a project that is inspired from the past to be a part of the feature.