The Neue Aachen design offers dramatic improvements to a small display typeface family, making it even more powerful. “Despite its limited range of weights, Aachen has been a surprisingly popular design,” says Jim Wasco, the designer of the new interpretation. “I knew that additional weights would expand the reach of the face even further.” The Neue Aachen family is the result of Wasco’s drive to make something very good, better.
The only member of the original family was Aachen Bold, a typeface drawn for Letraset dry-transfer lettering sheets in 1969. A lighter companion was added in 1977. Although drawn for mid-20th century typesetting technologies, the two-weight Aachen family made an easy transition to digital fonts in the 1990s. “The first designs served as a template for the new family,” recalls Wasco. “About a year before I started thinking about enlarging the original family, I had designed a slab serif typeface based on the Stymie design for a corporate client. As part of that project, I analyzed other slab serif favorites of mine, such as the ITC Lubalin Graph and Rockwell designs. This research had an important influence on Neue Aachen, as did the Bauer Bodoni and Melior typefaces.”
Not satisfied with just expanding the weight range of the original, Wasco decided to add complementary italic faces to his suite of Neue Aachen designs. “For the italic, I did comparison tests between a simple obliquing, or computer skewing, of the design and a true drawn italic,” he says. “I almost always prefer a true drawn Italic, and, in this case, it was an easy choice to go with that option.” He also drew an alternate two-story g for the roman weights to provide an added level of legibility when Neue Aachen is set in smaller sizes.
Wasco is a senior type designer at Monotype Imaging, where he designs commercial typefaces, like his Elegy and Harmonia Sans designs, and he creates custom branding fonts for corporate clients – including several Fortune 500 companies. When he’s not designing typefaces, Wasco directs outside design projects and coordinates collaborative design teams.
When asked about Neue Aachen’s range of uses, Wasco replies, “Aachen has a sturdy serious look. It is not surprising that we’ve seen the bold weight used for sports signage and banners, in addition to truck and power drink advertisements. Now that additional weights are available, the family will be an excellent choice for an even wider range of applications. I’m sure graphic designers will discover new uses for Neue Aachen in a broad range of text and display projects.”
The Neue Aachen family includes nine weights, from ultra light to black, each with an italic complement – for a total of 18 styles . The family is also available as a suite of OpenType Pro fonts, allowing for the automatic insertion of ligatures, fractions – and the alternate g. Pro fonts also include an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.