Back in the days of metal typesetting, many text typefaces were offered in only three weights: regular, bold and a lone italic. When Gerard Unger designed the Demos® typeface family, one of the very first created specifically for digital imaging, he followed that tradition His robust design was ideal for early digital machines. Recently, design refinements and family extension have dramatically improved its performance on current devices.
Designed by Gerard Unger in 1975, when he was still in his early 30s, the Demos typeface family was originally intended for typesetting newspapers. Mandated to be both legible and space economical, the Demos design confronted Unger with more than traditional rendering challenges. One of the issues facing typeface designers drawing for early digital technology was that sharp corners on characters tended to become somewhat blunted, losing their distinctive traits. To address this problem, Unger rounded off the vulnerable details as part of the design process, enabling the letters to retain their basic shapes.
Although the original Demos typeface remained popular for decades, it became apparent to Unger that the family needed to be upgraded for 21st century use. Additional weights and proportions would increase its utility and, thanks to sweeping innovations in imaging technology, character design could be refined and spacing improved. The Demos Next family grew out of this design brief.
To implement the re-envisioned design, Unger collaborated with Monotype designer Linda Hintz. She undertook the lion’s share of the work, while Unger served as a hands-on art director.
Born in The Netherlands in 1942, Gerard Unger has been designing typefaces since the early 1970s. His may not be a typographic household name but his typefaces have achieved a popularity and ubiquity that few designers can equal. Unger’s work include both award-winning commercial faces and powerful proprietary branding designs.
Most of Unger’s typefaces are upright and sturdy; even the most refined can be described as typographic workhorses. He is comfortable describing himself as “an old-fashioned designer – satisfying clients, solving problems and continuing a Dutch tradition of text face design for reading.”
Linda Hintz, a font engineer and typographic specialist at Monotype, is both a type and graphic designer. This gives her a special perspective on the design of typefaces. She not only understands what it takes to create a well-crafted design, but is also acutely aware of the needs of those who will be using the typeface. "I think of designing type as building a basic instrument graphic designers can use to give voices to their texts. I truly enjoy being able to develop such tools,” says Hintz. “The moment when the letterforms start to work well together – displaying a good rhythm, nice color and the overall impression you imagined – is almost magical."
A large lowercase x-height, open counters, simple yet distinctive character shapes and sturdy serifs distinguish the Demos Next typeface family. Care was taken to ensure that the design would retain its integrity when imaged in a variety of environments or on a wide range of imaging devices. The family also benefits from slightly condensed letterforms which, combined with its robust x-height, allow a considerable amount of copy to be set in a limited space, while still maintaining high levels of character legibility. This makes the design ideally suited for delivering content on mobile devices, as well as for setting traditional hardcopy at a wide range of sizes.
The Demos Next family is a large suite of roman and italic designs, each with condensed counterparts. Its lighter weights are perfect for text copy that is inviting and easy to read. The bolder weights can be used for larger sizes, such as headlines, subheads and advertising copy for mobile devices. And the black weight will create powerful headlines and commanding textual announcements. The condensed designs are ideal choices for projects that are space sensitive. The Demos Next family is also available as OpenType® Pro fonts allowing for the automatic insertion of ligatures, fractions, small caps and old style figures. Pro fonts also include an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.