In 1927, the Gebrüder Klingspor Foundry in Germany commissioned Rudolf Koch to design a typeface to compete with the geometric sans serif designs available from other German type foundries. “Leichte Kabel,” or Kabel Light was the first of his designs. While several different styles followed over the succeeding years, the completed family was a collection of individually designed styles that differed significantly from each other.
The rights to the Koch design were eventually transferred to the Stempel type foundry. Then in 1975, under a special license from Stempel, International Typeface Corporation commissioned Victor Caruso to revive the design for phototypesetting. The ITC design has an increased x-height and a systematically weighted family range.
Schütz, a type design teacher at the University for Art and Design Offenbach — the same school, where Rudolf Koch taught when he designed the Kabel typeface — took a new approach with the redesign of Kabel. His goal was to create forms that perform well in modern imaging environments while keeping the character and charm of Koch’s design. After studying proofs and specimens from the 1920s, at the Archive of the Museum Klingspor, Schütz decided to preserve most of the first Kabel’s demeanor and remove inconsistent details in the early 20th century design. The result is that text set in the Neue Kabel family appears much like original Kabel; maintaining the essence of Koch’s design, while being 21st century fresh.
Schütz was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and still lives and works in the same city. He studied at the University of Art and Design Offenbach am Main and has been teaching type design at the school for several years. In 2007, Schütz founded the design studio Schultzschultz with Ole Schulte. The studio provides a large spectrum of design services to clients predominantly in the fashion and music industry.
The geometric characteristics of Koch’s design were the result of an experiment of sorts – an odd experiment for Koch, however, who prided himself on his calligraphic ability. In his words, “the task of creating a type with a pair of compasses and a straight edge has always attracted me.” But Kabel was also created for pragmatic reasons. Every other major German type foundry in the late 1920s had either released, or was actively working on a new kind of sans serif design based on geometric character shapes. Ludwig and Mayer had already released their Erbar™ design, the Bauer foundry was developing the Futura® famly, and Berthold was busy working on Berthold Grotesque. To remain competitive, Klingspor would have to release a similar type. Although the specimen booklet that announced Kabel went to great lengths to explain the rational behind the design and to prove its geometric heritage, a little scrutiny reveals that this was more “window dressing” than “design formula.” While geometric in form, Koch based his character proportions on artistic sensibilities and, perhaps, a creative whim or two. Character shapes and proportions can be traced to ancient Greek lapidary letters, Venetian old style type designs – and, of course, calligraphy.
Text copy set in Neue Kabel echoes the style and liveliness of Koch’s design, while delivering the versatility to excel in a wide variety of print and digital environments. With nine weights, accompanying italics, a pro character set and dozens of OpenType® features, Schütz ensured that the Neue Kabel family is ready for even the most demanding applications of modern typography. The suites of alternate historical letterforms also offer many possibilities for creating individual logotypes and corporate identities. The Neue Kabel family of 18 roman and italic designs is available as OpenType® fonts featuring small caps, 8 sets of figures and the historical stylistic alternates. The fonts also include an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.