The ABCs of A2: An Interview with Henrik Kubel

The ABCs of A2: An Interview with Henrik Kubel
A2-Type spun out of London-based design studio A2/SW/HK in the fall of 2010. The studio was founded by Scott Williams and Henrik Kubel, both members of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). Their type foundry was established to release and distribute over a decade's worth of specially-crafted typefaces the firm has created.

Martin Salazar had the opportunity to meet Kubel at a Type Director's Club event last summer, and has been an avid follower of A2's work ever since. Salazar, a designer at ESPN The Magazine, recently caught up with the A2 founder to talk fonts...

  • Inspiration for A2-Type's new font, Antwerp
    Inspiration for A2-Type's new font, Antwerp
  • More inspiration for Antwerp
    More inspiration for Antwerp
  • Sketch from Antwerp development
    Sketch from Antwerp development
  • Sketch from Antwerp development
    Sketch from Antwerp development
  • Sketch from Antwerp development
    Sketch from Antwerp development
  • A2-Type's Antwerp
    A2-Type's Antwerp
  • A2-Type's Antwerp
    A2-Type's Antwerp
  • A2-Type's Antwerp
    A2-Type's Antwerp
  • A2-Type's Antwerp
    A2-Type's Antwerp
  • Regular from A2-Type
    Regular from A2-Type
  • Battersea from A2-Type
    Battersea from A2-Type
  • Grot from A2-Type
    Grot from A2-Type
  • Monday from A2-Type
    Monday from A2-Type
  • FM from A2-Type
    FM from A2-Type
  • 60 Display from A2-Type
    60 Display from A2-Type
  • Vogue Paris from A2-Type
    Vogue Paris from A2-Type


Why did you decide to start up a type foundry within your design studio? 
We have developed type for all of our clients since we founded our design studio A2/SW/HK in 2000. Part of our philosophy is to design a new font for each job we take on. We decided to start releasing our fonts commercially in 2009 after seeing the commercial success of our font New Rail Alphabet, which I developed in collaboration with Margaret Calvert, another reason is that we have had an increasing interest from other designers and agencies to use our fonts.

 
A custom typeface for EVERY new job?  
Yes, that is true. It's time-consuming but something we have cultivated for more than a decade now and something we are proud of. Drawing bespoke typefaces, as an integrated part of our design approach, is a feature that has set our design studio apart and at the same time has contributed to creating unique designs for our clients.

 
What distinguishes A2-Type from other foundries?  
We apply the fonts we design. The client brief is the starting point for the development of all our fonts, whether it's for a newspaper, a magazine, a series of book covers or an exhibition.

 
What is your all-time favorite A2 typeface and why?
We have just released a classic font with contemporary proportions named Antwerp. (read the full story here). Antwerp was designed especially for books, newspapers and magazines and is a versatile font family with a distinctive italic. It has been developed in 5 weights, plus italics, and we are currently in the process of adding more weights.

 
Which of your fonts do you recommend for designers in editorial design?
--Body copy (sans): Battersea, Klampenborg, Dane, Grot10, New Rail Alphabet, London, Aveny-
--Body copy (serif): Antwerp, FM, Maximum, Kunstuff, Outsiders, Monday, Typewriter
--Display type (sans): Dane, 60 Display, Aveny-T, A2 Beckett, Boing, Battersea, Klampenbor
--Display type (serif): Impacto, CWM, Danmark, Vogue Floral, Vogue Paris, Zadie

 
What about for the web and iPads?
All of our fonts can be converted, upon request, for iPad and web use. Currently we have 10 fonts available through our web font partner WebINK. We will make 10 additional fonts available for web embedding by the end of March.


What advice do you have for an art director that wants to design his own fonts?
Contact a type designer and start developing a brief. A2-Type are often approached with a wish to customize certain details and features in one of our existing fonts. Many times this leads to new fonts, other times to a client-specific version of a font we already had in our library, for example a version with rounded corners, a new weight (ultra light, super black etc.) or a slab version of a serif font. Everything is possible, typographically speaking, and it's impossible for us to second-guess the market, so our approach is to publish what we think is needed and to adjust accordingly--upon request.


What's your "desert-island" font?
That would be like asking me to eat the same meal for the rest of my life, impossible! I love type and I think every client should have their own set of unique fonts or at least to consider the option of communicating their message in a different way than their competitors.

  
Where do you see A2-Type in 10 years? 
I guess I will start teaching type design to a new generation! But for now it's important that we continue to develop our library of fonts and focus on client collaborations, as well as developing well-crafted fonts for the commercial market.
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