Back Story: Berlin-based graphic design studio and type foundry Hanzer Liccini works across identities, publication design, web design, type creation, and print; often using the type side of its practice to inform the graphics side, and vice versa. Most of its work involves the use of custom typefaces and typographic experimentation, and Timezone was largely born out of this approach: “the font emerged out of our graphic design practice,” studio cofounders Elias Hanzer and Lucas Liccini said. “We wanted to have our own chunky serif to set type in books and publications.”
The pair added that Timezone has “gone through multiple design stages,” with the designers testing its use in print and making incremental improvements accordingly.
The font’s look and feel is inspired by early digital fonts and “type design from the phototypesetting era”, meaning the fonts that were used from the mid-20th century onwards with phototypesetters. These were the first commercial machines used instead of hot metal typesetting in newsprint, acting as the bridge between historical analogue printing processes and modern day offset printing methods. Phototypesetting had its heyday in the 1970s and 80s, and is now largely defunct.
One of Timezone’s main inspirations was Demos, a 1976 font designed by Gerard Unger and one of the first digital typefaces. “We were specifically drawn to the round edges, which Unger implemented to counteract sharp edges appearing blunt in print and the letters appearing less crisp,” said Hanzer Liccini. “It’s an overall aesthetic that we were immediately drawn to. All of the corner elements are rounded, giving the font a consistent appearance at various sizes.”
Why’s it called Timezone? According to the studio, it’s thanks to the all-purpose nature of the font: it can act across any application, size, “latitude, or longitude,” apparently. Currently, it only offers a Latin script, however, though there are multiple languages supported.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? As a low-contrast serif face, Timezone (like its inspiration Demos) has no sharp corners, instead bearing slightly rounded edges. It was designed to be a durable text font with high visibility, and comes in a regular and an italic, with additional small caps (including numerals) for both styles. “No matter the point size, application, latitude, or longitude, Timezone never sleeps,” said Hanzer Liccini. The weighty-seriffed upright style is sturdy and durable, while the italic has a dynamic, lively swing to it. “This slightly contrasting feeling in upright and italic, reminiscent of classical serifs such as Garamond, was helpful to include for the overall energy.”
What should I use it for? Thanks to its merging of almost classic, understated aesthetics with modern-day eyes on versatility across all manner of both technical and printed uses, Timezone is a workhorse. You name it, you could use it for it. However, its creators point out that it’s especially suitable for small text thanks to its low contrast; but in bigger sizes, the unique details (namely the characters’ round edges) come alive to “give it a special, almost analog feel.”
What other fonts would it pair well with? Again, it’s a workhorse, so pretty much anything. For more playful or techy designs, you could go wild and put it alongside something like KyotoTW, which is also inspired by the ’70s and ’80s — namely its video games (and typewriters); or even fellow round-edged font Sagittarius, which is inspired by vintage sci-fi. For things like publication design, wisdom might suggest pairing it with a sans-serif font with similarly subtle quirks — maybe Swiss-leaning 2020 font Forever Grotesk or even another globetrotting font, Typotheque’s Ping.