turbo type X Klingspor Museum: Laura Brunner and Leonie Martin about the newly launched Klingspor Type Archive
“After many months of fiddling, scanning, inventorying and researching, we can finally share a fancy new type archive with the world. The first 1,000 digital copies of the archive of designs and type specimens from the type foundry Gebr. Klingspor are now accessible online, which makes us insanely happy!” reads Klingspor Museum’s announcement of a project two years in the making aka Klingspor Type Archive, the online initiative that houses the largest still existing and coherent collection of Klingspor material and one that aims to reintroduce a typographic legacy which deserves to be celebrated.
Many type designers and type enthusiasts are already familiar with Klingspor aka the type foundry of the same name in Offenbach/Main, Germany. Klingspor produced artistic typefaces for lead type in the first half of the 20th century and worked with personalities from various artistic disciplines, including Otto Eckmann, Peter Behrens, Rudolf Koch, and Walter Tiemann. Klingspor Type Archive which consists of designs that are in part over 120 years old and have not yet been fully inventoried, let alone digitized is reintroducing this chapter of typographic history to the world.
Featuring preliminary sketches and correspondence that bear witness to the creation of typefaces still known today, as well as artistically designed type specimens that advertised the finished products, the Klingspor Type Archive aims to be more than just the Klingspor Museum’s online catalog. Opting to be a source of inspiration and an object of investigation for designers and researchers alike, the Klingspor Type Archive brings into its digital realm “additional contemporary projects that began in the archive and now return here via the platform to become part of the catalog, providing additional context and thus contributing to a lively exchange” explains the team.
The focus of the website that is initiated and designed by Laura Brunner and Leonie Martin (both graduates of the University of Art and Design Offenbach and co-founders of the design studio turbo type) is clearly to bring the many typographic treasures of the collection into the limelight.
“Large images of the objects on a transparent background can be moved across the screen as if on a digital light table. Even the search feature, though suitable for scientific work, is actually a big toy and invites exploration with its sliders and buttons. After all, the archive – similar to Klingspor’s specimens, which were designed with a love of detail – should also be fun for the eye!” explain the creatives.
Typeset in bespoke type designed by turbo type, the fonts are a revisit to the Klingspor origins as Brunner and Martin’s custom font is a new interpretation of Koch-Antiqua, a serif typeface intended for decorative and display use, designed by Rudolf Koch and published by his employer the Klingspor Type Foundry in 1927.
A delicate face with a low x-height, intended for decorative printing rather than for extended body text, Koch-Antiqua was Koch’s first roman or “Antiqua” type (the kind generally used in western Europe, as opposed to blackletter writing) and achieved considerable attention both in Germany and abroad. It was exported under the names “Locarno” and “Eve”. “I know of no type more elegant…Koch Antiqua is a highly individual design. It reveals the working of a fastidious mind and a skillful hand…perfectly suited to express in print the idea of elegance” Walter Tracy once commented on it.
In addition to Bold, Regular Sans, Regular Serif, and Italic, the bespoke typeface family created for the Klingspor Type Archive includes an additional set of Icons with a broad-nib style. “Each cut is individually drawn, resulting in small inconsistencies and handmade details similar to the original” note Brunner and Martin.
“The new catalog provides interested parties with extended access to the internationally sought-after archive, as well as usability that is independent of prior or specialist knowledge. Links, short articles, and the addition of contemporary design and research projects further contextualize the historical material” they add.
“It has been two years since the prototype of the site was first presented” Brunner and Martin explain about the Archive that started as their diploma project at HfG Offenbach. “A lot has happened since then: as turbo type, we have taken on the conception and design of the site and driven the planning and development forward together with Klingspor Museum and our programmers. We can hardly believe that all the objects we have so often had in our hands in the archive can now be clicked through digitally.”
An ongoing project that will deliver more as time unfolds, Typeroom welcomes this trove of a few hundred beautiful typographic treasures — approximately 2,500 objects from about 60 boxes have been photographed and are gradually moving into the online catalog — accessible for all to see, drag around and explore.
Explore Klingspor Type Archive here.
Tags/ typography, inspiration, type, origins, type design, custom, type foundry, custom font, bespoke type, type archive, archive, klingspor, klingspor type archive, klingspor museum, laura brunner, leonie martin, turbo type