Make the world a better place with Sharp Type’s Earth Day type release
Inspired by Spanish and English models from the 15th and 16th centuries Respira is a contemporary blackletter typeface designed by Sharp Type for good reason. “From its release on Earth Day, 2017, ALL proceeds from the sale of this typeface will be donated to the NRDC” says the graphic design studio of Respira which wants to make our world a better, blacklettered place.
“Respira is inspired by a particular style of Spanish blackletter often found in illuminated manuscripts of Andalusia. We first came across this unique style in the breathtaking Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación in Granada, Spain. For designer Lucas Sharp, it was love at first sight” writes Sharp Type, the renowned digital type foundry based in New York City and Granada, Spain.
“While blackletter was originally used for text settings, from the 11th century through much of the 16th and 17th, it’s modern use is almost exclusively for display, leading the current models to be much more decorative than their original text versions. This miniscule was like nothing we had ever seen – the more complex letters were strikingly beautiful, constructed ingeniously and inventively with skillful calligraphic strokes, but the foundational vertical strokes were simple and plain. While other blackletter in use today commonly employs a complex system of serifs and flourishes with varied hairlines and endstrokes, this miniscule contained none of that noise.”
“Its vertical stems were simple and austere, containing only a modest implication of serifs. This tension between simplicity and complexity present in the word shape is magnified by the tight spacing afforded by the subtlety of the serifs.”
“The design of Respira is also influenced by the physical deterioration of the ancient manuscripts. Due to poor lighting conditions behind the alter of the Catedral de la Encarnación, we were unaware that some of the more stylized forms like the “a” and the “k” were not actually “stenciled”, but were so high contrast and old that the hairlines had gradually faded from view. We discovered the existence of the hairlines when we came across the style in the 16th century Spanish master Juan de Ycíar’s Arte Subtilissima (1553, Zaragoza) - and later noticed a super fine and faded hairline when we were lucky enough to come across an original manuscript page for our own library while antiquing in Sevilla”.
“The uppercase of Respira is not based on the Spanish model at all. The design is original, but bears a closer resemblance to English Textura than to the capitals of the Spanish style. We suspect that many Spanish monks had a similar preference for the miniscule over the majiscule, as we found that quite often illustrated uncials are used in place of the standard capitals” they add.
Respira’s proceeds will be donated to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit organization that fights for environmental preservation and policy change to help save the planet and everything living on it. To promote its release Sharp Type worked with two guest designers on a 'Respira' poster series about climate change. Eric Carter’s ‘Oilmen’ and Justin Sloane’s graphic visualization of NASA's regional climate-change report, these posters remind us of the importance of climate change and the world we live in.