Courtesy FAY.

Name: TRI
Designers: Aron Fay and Will Ferguson
Studio: FAY
Release Date: Unreleased

Back Story: For Aron Fay, founder of the NYC-based branding and graphic design studio that bears his name, a love of design is matched only by a serious interest in electro, techno, and acid house music. “I’ve spent many hours digging through dusty crates of LPs and many late nights on discography lists looking for new records,” says Fay. It proved to be time well spent, resulting in an impressive personal archive of albums from the 1980s through today. Valuing his collection as much for the album cover designs as the music, Fay created an Are.na channel to collect his favorite examples of ’90s and 2000s hyper-stylized monospaced display typefaces that visually echo the minimal, futuristic, and often harsh sounds of techno music.

In early 2019, he increased his musical output and began releasing some of his own mixes and productions under the alias x1a (a nerdy design reference to a legacy 2001 PDF export preset that’s still reliable today in dicey print situations). To create a unified system for his x1a album covers, Fay collaborated with designer Will Ferguson to create the typeface TRI.

Why’s it called TRI? The name TRI references the typeface’s unique letterforms built on just three vertices that form a right triangle. “This triangular form was an attempt to draw letterforms at their most minimal,” Fay says.

What are its distinguishing characteristics? The typeface combines straight-edged triangular forms with round terminals, all drawn using a single stroke weight. Tight negative space between strokes generates a high-contrast effect suitable for display use at large sizes despite the alphabet’s mono-weight drawing; TRI allows just a sliver of daylight between letterforms, which slot neatly into the negative spaces of their neighboring characters. Thanks to the their triangular construction, thick strokes, and tight spacing, a string of characters starts to resemble a full set of teeth. TRI has an unforgiving and aggressive look about it; some of the characters such as the H (which reads as a backwards N) and pretty much all the numerals other than 1–3 are only recognizable when viewed in context with other letters. Like techno music, TRI is not for the faint of heart.

What should I use it for? TRI would be perfect for any design that’s techno-music related (obviously), but would also work beautifully on movie posters or within films set in futuristic outer space environments. However…

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Well, unfortunately you can’t,” says Fay. “It’s a proprietary typeface specifically designed for use by FAY. There’s no plans to release it publicly at the moment, but in a purely speculative realm, TRI would look great with the whisper-thin shapes of Theinhardt Hairline or the more humanist rounded geometry of Next, both from Geneva-based foundry Optimo.