Courtesy Simon Bent.

Name: Texel
Designer: Simon Bent/studio-io
Foundry: Metis Foundry
Release Date: December 2018

Back Story: Texel began life in Melbourne’s studio-io as a branding concept inspired by the solid forms of Brutalist buildings. This architectural vernacular came into being just after WWII and was seen by some as an honest, plainspoken style and by others as an offense to aesthetic sensibilities—hulking structures formed from raw slabs of cold concrete are not everyone’s cup of tea. The term Brutalism was coined by the British architectural critic Reyner Banham and originates from modernist architect Le Corbusier’s use of ‘beton brut’—raw concrete in French. Bent’s typographic exploration of harsh and unforgiving geometry resulted in a severely gridded, heavy-as-cement font that makes no excuses for its rough character.

Courtesy Simon Bent.

Why’s it called Texel? The research for the initial branding project included visual investigations into various military fortifications. The low, squat structure of Battery Den Hoorn, a WWII observation bunker on Texel (an island off the Dutch coastline), stuck in Bent’s imagination and led to an ideal name for the typeface. Random fun fact: the island of Texel is also famous in military history as the only place where a navy was defeated on horseback, in 1795.

What are its distinguishing characteristics? “Texel is a condensed display typeface that embraces ruggedness and rejects the need to be comfortable,” says Bent. Its narrow letterforms are angular, heavy, and utilitarian. One iteration of the stencil version features only vertical cuts, and the other uses only horizontal cuts. All of its internal counters are linear, right angles, or dots, lending a Morse code feeling of urgency. Terminals and corners are cut straight across or at a severe 45 degrees. When set as a dense block of large-scale text, Texel morphs into shapes and patterns and move away from readability, forging a kinship with Mid-Century modernist type experiments using pure geometric forms such as Lustig Elements (first sketched out as just a few characters in 1930, finally produced in 2016).

Courtesy Simon Bent.

What should I use it for? Texel should be deployed for headings, breakout quotes, and general display purposes. Repeating, rotating, and stacking characters generates some interesting graphic borders and frames that would pair nicely with clean formal typesetting. Let the brute into the studio!

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? “Because of its weightiness, Texel should be paired with something far lighter and easier on the eye,” Bent says. Theinheardt and GT Zirkon are good options.