Designer: Benoît Bodhuin
Release Date: June 2017
Back Story: As a starting point, Bodhuin imagined a typeface characterized by unexpected connections between letters, to be used by an architect in the early days of his or her career. “I wanted to direct this project more freely towards a brutal look for the type,” he says. The links and connections between the letters are an interpretation of the type of mannered “draftsman” handwriting once seen on blueprints. Before CAD, it was necessary for architects to adopt standardized handwriting since at any given firm, several people would be working on the same project over time, and the blueprints would be a real mess if everyone had a different style of lettering. The profession had to develop a standardized written style to keep things coherent.
Why’s it called Brutal? In this harsh interpretation of calligraphy and the fluid gestures of handwriting, letters are broken apart, oddly angled, and generally chaotic, yet somehow the font holds together beautifully. Its visual equivalent? A classroom of eighth graders on a hot Friday afternoon, last period, with a substitute teacher. Do you see order and good behavior? I don’t think so.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Brutal has quite a bit of oddness going on. Despite its calligraphic inspiration, it is surprisingly angular and geometric in places. Letterforms sport sudden gaps in unexpected places, and they don’t all adhere to a common baseline. The horizontal strokes vary widely in width and some letters, such as the capital H, take a visual cue from Linotype Ondine before skidding off the rails into their own territories. The top strokes of the capital Z and S take flight; the two lobes of the numeral 8 are completely divorced from one another; the tail of the capital Q lives completely outside of the rest of the letter. It’s an unruly beast.
What should I use it for? Says the typeface designer: “For dismissal letters :)” Nice! Less cruel applications include anywhere you might consider a cursive font that is not in the least bit cute or coy—or perhaps on the blueprints for Brutalist style buildings made entirely of concrete.
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Bodhuin suggests Antique Olive. There is something about the rational solidity of Futura, especially in the Extra Bold weight, that feels like a good counterpoint for Brutal.