Bona Nova

Name: Bona Nova
Typeface Designers: Andrzej Heidrich and Mateusz Machalski
Design Process Collaborators: Leszek Bielski, Anna Wieluńska, Michał Jarociński, Rafał Łaszek
Foundry: Capitalics.wtf (that url stands for Warsaw Type Foundry, naturally)
Release Date: Bona was introduced 1971; Bona Nova was released 2017

Back Story: This project connects three generations of graphic design graduates who attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Bona Nova’s ancestor, Bona, was created in 1971 by Andrzej Heidrich, designer of the Polish banknotes. While the leaded metal type resides in the permanent collection of the Academy’s typesetting department, Heidrich retained complete sets of working drawings of all Bona characters, plotted by hand with brush and black tempera on 10cm blocks of cardboard. This archive became an invaluable reference source for the designers of the proposed new digitized font, who consulted with Heidrich on every detail. Over 1,000 guests attended Bona Nova’s release party and exhibition, where 26 invited graphic designers presented posters featuring their versions of Bona Nova’s initial caps. As a finishing touch, the designers also produced an English version of a book and website about the project to join the original Polish versions.

Why’s it called Bona Nova? Heidrich named Bona after the 16th-century Italian queen Bona Sforza of Milan. Bona Nova (nova is Latin for “new”) simply refers to the typeface’s newly redrawn and extended version of his work.

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Bona Nova is a classical Roman style with delicate stroke contrast, thanks to its Italian influence. The typeface’s gently organic proportions are joined by bold elements, such as an expressive capital S, a characteristic double-story lowercase g, and highly set horizontal crossbars on the cap A, H, E, and F. The base character set includes small caps, alternative glyphs, and multiple OpenType features. “Working collaboratively with Heidrich, we designed two new text versions, regular and bold, to create a classic script triad,” says Machalski. There are also six display versions, including the striking Bona Sforza Bold with its delicate triple inline, and the super-high contrast Bona Title Bold.

What should I use it for? Bona Nova is an excellent choice for books and classical brand identities, as well as for typographic posters and headlines. Each version of the display styles is a distinct variation from the basic letterforms, yet they all hold together beautifully despite the wide variety built into the shapes and strokes.

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Bona Nova pairs up harmoniously with Humanist sans serif typefaces such as (sorry to be obvious) Gill Sans.

Bonus round: You can download three styles here for free!