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Name: Kinetic
Designers: Noel Pretorius and María Ramos
Foundry: NMType
Release Date: January 2017

Back story: This is the first joint project by Pretorius and Ramos, who met at Reading University while studying typeface design. Kinetic translates the equilibrium of artist Alexander Calder’s iconic mobiles, made of irregular geometric shapes hovering on delicate wires, into letterforms. The italic characters are created from a single stroke, as if made of bent wire, and pose a nice balance to the font’s more traditional roman letters.

Why’s it called Kinetic? “We wanted to find a distinctive and memorable name that connected to Calder’s art, and since his kinetic sculptures were central to his work, it felt like a natural choice,” the designers say. 

What are its distinguishing characteristics?  While geometry is visible in the DNA of the typeface, its design avoids strict mathematical patterns, as the designers hoped to add more human-ness to their geometric sans serif. The letterforms show an independent streak: the crossbars in uppercase letters don’t align with the optical centers, and slightly curved terminals plus a range of different shapes used for dots across the type families lend an organic feel. Although a small x-height can impede legibility, Kinetic’s wide characters, open terminals, and long ascenders add up to a soft, elegant, and very readable typeface, even at small sizes. And that lowercase italic b is just a thing of beauty.

What should I use it for? Kinetic is designed to function well in print and on screen. If you’ve got a brand or project that could use a light, modern touch, you could do worse.

Who’s it friends with?  Chaparral is a good match in terms of overall feel; both typefaces have a similar x-height and reflect a human touch. As a smart choice for a little contrast, the designers also suggest Solido, a squarish condensed sans serif with a large x-height from DSType Foundry. 

Courtesy María Ramos and Noel Pretorius

Bonus round: Tell us about the Kinetic app! “We decided to add something new to the traditional way of releasing a typeface,” the designers say. “A Notes app for Kinetic felt like a good component of our release kit, a way for designers to check out the typeface for free on small screens.” The app allows users to create notes, lists, and reminders with different families within Kinetic, a nice change from the single typeface option available on most other note-taking apps. A limited-edition specimen booklet rounds out the promo materials.