Designers: Juliette Duhé, Léa Pradine, Valentin Papon, Chloé Lozano, Sébastien Riollier
Foundry: Velvetyne Foundry
Released: October 2018
Backstory: Compagnon is a mismatched typeface family made up of five very different styles, as each weight has been designed by a different designer. Inspired by the online archive Typewriter Database, each weight references a different period from the history of typewriter typefaces. Together, the family underscores the evolution of typewriter characters over time, which has varied from serifs to sans-serifs and italics to scripts and more. The five designers behind this eclectic assortment studied typography together at the higher European School of Art in Brittany, France (EESSAB-Rennes.)
“After researching the history of typewriter typefaces, we asked ourselves how five people could effectively work on a font?” says Juliette Duhé. “We considered doing a revival font, but it was difficult to pick just one specimen from the database. There’s been a lot of contemporary typewriter fonts anyway, like Pitch by Klim Type Foundry or Lacrima from Milleu Grotesque. Therefore, instead of focusing on a specific specimen or brand, we decided to pull from multiple sources. Each individual designer could therefore express themselves, and not feel constrained by collective work.” The result is a series that’s not so much consistent, but rather steeped in a fragmented history.
Why’s it called Compagnon? The family refers to multiple historical typefaces rather than a typeface that belong to a particular brand of typewriter—like Selectric, IBM, or Corona—so it couldn’t be named after a model or company. During research, the five designers noticed that many typewriter machines have been ascribed female names—Gabriele, Erika, or Valentine, for example. ”We liked this personification, which makes the machine more human. But we wanted a word to describe the spirit of family, not a single person,” says Duhé. The team settled on the name Compagnon as “it expresses the variety of styles involved, but also sounds like a good buddy who’ll be there for your design projects.”
What are its distinguishing characteristics? As described above, each style reflects a different period of typewriter. In order to keep the styles vaguely consistent though, and to allow for combinations, each weight has the same Em-space, x-height, ascender, and descender.
Compagnon Roman Regular and Roman Light are smooth and rounded while remaining dynamic. Their curves are exaggerated on the ball terminals. Compagnon MonoFaked is well-balanced and systematic. Compagnon Italic is inspired by Frederic Goudy typeface drafts for Remington typewriters. Campagnon Medium is the lineal style of the family, with its origins drawing on more recent typewriter models. Lastly, Companion Script is mainly inspired by the Royal Spencerian character used in the Ultrasonic and Safarie models of the Royal typewriters in the 1960s. It was designed to evoke the aesthetics of neon signs in American casinos.
How should I use it? As a family, of course. Mix and match depending on what you want to communicate—and for any projects that require a zine-like, cobbled-together mood. It’s important to note that Compagnon is an open-source typeface, so everyone can modify it for whatever use they like. “That’s the exciting thing for us,” says Duhé, “we’re so curious to see the next versions of the typeface.”
What should I pair it with? Probably with a typeface of an opposite weight for contrast. “The regular and light looks good with Windsor and its amazing rounded curves,” suggests Duhé. “But it could also work with Temeraire Italienne Italic by Quentin Schmerber. As for the medium, we’re something like Du Nord from Play Type, or the Neue Haas Grotesk from Font Bureau.”