Name: Optimum Compress
Designer: Simon Bent
Foundry: T:D:F (The Designers Foundry)
Release date: spring 2016
Back story: Initially developed for a promo electronic music poster, designer Simon Bent wanted to create something that referenced old style Gothic script typefaces—taller, more angular, and futuristic, yet still comfortable in the land of dragons, knights, and drawbridges, as he puts it.
Why’s it called Optimum Compress? “I hadn’t actually decided on a name when we posted some type tests to Instagram: a poster with words ‘optimum compress maximum illegibility’ written on it,” says Bent. “As it was picked up by other blogs and on Tumblr, people began to refer to it as Optimum Compress. Fair enough, really! Rather than try and rename it, we worked with what had formed on its own.”
What are its distinguishing characteristics? The tall, narrow letterforms push the edges of legibility, blurring into pattern and shape once a word contains more than a few characters. The vertiginous effect can be put to good use in design situations where the ability to read the content is secondary to the visual impact alone.
What should I use it for? At the moment, you can’t. It’s still in development. Bent is busy finalizing the uppercase characters and additional glyphs for release in early spring 2016. In the meantime, experiment with other blackletter typefaces like Neudoerffer Fraktur or Grace to bring an element of the unexpected, say as a way to contrast ladylike clothes in a fashion editorial layout. We think these letterforms would also be gorgeous and dramatic in small doses on websites, for titles, splash screens, and the like.