“Drawing letters is my passion,” says Erik Faulhaber, the designer of the Xenois typeface family. Pronounced “zeeno-is,” the design distills character shapes into what Faulhaber believes are their purest forms. “I studied many typefaces, carefully examining their structure, before I began drawing Xenois. Then I actually wrote out a detailed design brief establishing the goals for my design.”
Xenois is Faulhaber’s third commercial typeface family. His first was the Generis® design, drawn in 2006. The idea for Generis came to Faulhaber while he was traveling in the United States. The juxtaposition of myriad typefaces inside a shopping mall became his inspiration to create a typeface system of multiple variations, each sharing common character shapes and proportions. The Aeonis™ family followed in 2009, inspired by lapidary inscriptions from ancient Greece.
For Xenois, Faulhaber’s vision was to meld his two earlier designs into a typeface family that combined ancient and modern characteristics. He expresses the dichotomy between antiquity and modernity typographically, in the contrast between angular and rounded forms. Of the distinctive character shapes, Faulhaber says, “I do not look for unusual shapes. I simplify the design to its cleanest form. Xenois balances clarity and diversity.”
Faulhaber studied design in Karlsruhe at the Center for Art and Media under Professor Kurt Weidemann. “I’ve been fascinated by letters for as long as I can remember,” Faulhaber recalls. “When I was a child, the letters on a book cover, a poster or a truck tarpaulin made a strong impression on me. I found their shapes irresistible, and I fell in love with them.”
After graduating, Faulhaber worked briefly at Linotype outside Frankfurt, and in 1996 embarked on his career as an independent designer. Faulhaber has taught typography at the universities of Halle, Weimar and Wuppertal.
Xenois is more than a simple type family. This far-reaching suite of designs provides solutions for a multitude of communications. The mission Faulhaber set for himself was more extensive than designing a new original typeface and more laborious than creating several individual type families. His task was a combination of these – and then some. The sub-families within the Xenois series interrelate perfectly. They have a common and obvious design bond, yet each is able to stand on its own as a distinct typestyle. The Xenois typefaces are based on a common underlying model; they have the same cap height, the same lowercase x-height, the same stem weights, and the same basic character shapes. This unity of shape and proportion results in a remarkably complementary set of typeface designs.
All the Xenois designs are distinguished by a large lowercase x-height, squared character shapes, somewhat wide proportions and full, open counters. Each sub-family is comprised of five weights from light to heavy, and all have companion italics. Faulhaber not only simplified the sans serif characters, but also did away with many traditional serifs – leaving only those that make reading easier.
The range of applications for the Xenois family is virtually limitless. From restaurant menus to business correspondence, from movie credits to annual reports, from corporate identity systems to advertising campaigns – the various sub-faces in the Xenois family offer appropriate and engaging options. The Xenois family is available as a suite of OpenType® Pro fonts. Designers can now work with this versatile design while taking advantage of OpenType’s capabilities, including the automatic insertion of old style figures, ligatures and small caps. The new Xenois Pro fonts also offer an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.