Back Story: Hamburg-based type designer Philip Lammert finds contradictions a favorite source of inspiration, and set out to create a contemporary serif typeface with a debt to 15th-century Humanist styles that would not be a Humanist style in itself. To pull off this balancing act, Lammert endowed Adelbrook with straight vertical stems widening towards the baseline and ending in hefty asymmetrical foot serifs, then applied this principle of gravity (envision wet paint on a wall, dripping towards the bottom) proportionally to all elements, depending on character height. Humanist styles typically have a low x-height (Adelbrook’s is high); Humanist characters feature a low sloping bowl on the lower case a (Adelbrook shares this), distinctly slanted crossbars on lower case e’s, and o’s that lean towards the left; Adelbrook does not. The tension around these contradictions and similarities engaged the designer so thoroughly that Lammert completed the entire font family in just seven months.
Why’s it called Adelbrook? Feeling that his design called for an archaic, maybe even mystical name, Lammert started with the Edelwood trees seen in the 2014 Cartoon Network animated series “Over the Garden Wall.” Adelbrook’s stems and foot serifs reminiscent of tree trunks reinforce the association with a fairytale fen wood. Additionally, the German word adel means “nobility,” and brook in Northern Germany is a regional word for “marshland.” The combined term, “noble marshland,” has a peculiar charm suited to the organic natures of the characters.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Adelbrook marches to a vigorous yet calm consistency. Its rhythm is that of a sophisticated alphabet with mechanical origins, rather than the more calligraphic underpinnings of a Humanist revival typeface. Adelbrook draws warmth from its baseline-emphasizing gravity, asymmetrical serifs, and idiosyncrasies in every character. The type family shows an evenness in its light or unapplied head serifs, clipped dots, teardrop terminals, tapered stems, a subtly grading vertical hairline variation, and hefty serifs around the lower parts.
What should I use it for? Adelbrook’s low stroke contrast and horizontal metrics don’t shy away from occupying space, making the typeface supremely legible in text sizes. Blogs, magazines and books are its home environment. Lammert says, “It looks good in the context of sustainable brands and eco-friendly corporate design…imagine it on organic food packaging! By the way, Adelbrook is a vegan typeface, as no animals were harmed during the design process.”
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Options, you’ve got options. If you want to play it safe, try a humanist sans, such as Libertad. If you’d like your layout to be more contrasty, use a geometric typeface with open counters such as Lelo. Finally, for a traditional look and feel, combine Adelbrook with Halyard, a font occupying the middle ground between a handcrafted neo-grotesque and a condensed early grotesque.