Courtesy Parachute

Name: Grand Gothik
Designer: Panos Vassiliou
Foundry: Parachute
Release Date: October 2018

Back Story: Grand Gothik got its start in 2017 as a bespoke typeface for the surfer magazine Kyma (which is Greek for “wave”). It’s the first commercial multiscript variable typeface from an independent type foundry. Taking late 19th- and early 20th-century European and American grotesques as a starting point, the font family pays homage to the development of gothic typefaces over the years, from mid-century movie theater marquees and new wave cinematography to American highway signage and telephone directories.

Why’s it called Grand Gothik? “The name reflects Grand Gothik’s versatility as a fully-functional variable font and its interpretation of a vast array of gothic styles,” says Panos Vassiliou, director at Parachute. “The ‘c’ in ‘gothic’ is replaced by a ‘k’ to highlight the crisp and contemporary nature of the type system.”

Courtesy Parachute.

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Grand Gothik’s comprehensive design space includes three axes: weight, width, and a separate one for italics. It is available as a variable font or as five separate open-type families: compressed, condensed, normal, wide, and extended, each with nine weights from Extra Thin to Black, plus italics. The type system supports an extended array of languages and scripts including Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic.

Unlike most grotesques, this typeface features sharp joints rather than a smooth connection where curved strokes and stems merge into each other. Open counters with enhanced white space and curved strokes with oblique terminals increase clarity at small sizes. Ascenders were extended, descenders shortened, and contrast was tweaked for maximum legibility.

Specific characters got some individual love as well: Numbers were redesigned according to their historical references, and the letter “o” in the wide version does not follow the extended form of other characters, becoming an almost round circle instead. Bonus: there’s an extended character set of weather icons, numeral symbols, and emojis (plus a Bitcoin symbol).

Each of Grand Gothik’s three stylistic alternates draws upon a specific period and style, from the rather crude appearance of late 19th-century grotesques all the way to their more graceful contemporary counterparts. The multi-functional default version starts with squared-off stems and its letter “a” is designed with a spur. The first variation retains the squared-off stems but the “a” loses its spur, giving it a more corporate texture, while the second, more eclectic version swaps the squared-off stems for slanted ones. The third and most vibrant variation, a nod to 19th-century European Grotesque styles, features a higher middle stroke on letters such as “E,” “F,” and “H,” pushing the design of other characters such as “B,” “K,” “P,” and “R,” in the same design direction, and has alternate versions of the lowercase letters “a” and “t” to best reflect that era.

What should I use it for? Grand Gothik fits a multitude of typographic needs. Its first variation is the most serious looking, making it a fine choice for corporate applications. The second variation, a bit more vibrant and refined in nature, works beautifully with modern publications. The typographic voice of the third variation, characterized by the vibrant raw texture of 19th century European grotesques, hits home with magazines, books, posters and signage.

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Keep it simple: Regal, Bodoni, or Caslon