Interview with the Brand Identity

Explore the in-depth interview with Poppy Thaxter for The Brand Identity, where Daniela Retana speaking on behalf of our Co-Founders Dennis Moya Razafimandimby, Emeric Turcat, and Ian Party, delves into the history of our company, and outlines our shared vision for the future of Newglyph and the type design industry.


Hi Daniela! How’s everything going?


Hello! Everything is going really well for us. newglyph is in a great place, and we’re gearing up for an exciting year ahead. We’re keeping some surprises up our sleeves for the next year, and the whole team is buzzing with anticipation. Thanks for asking!


How did you all first meet? And what led you to launch a foundry together?


This is a very good question, but I can’t really answer it without giving you a little history of Ian’s type design journey. In 2007, Ian and I crossed paths, marking the inception of our journey together. Ian was in the midst of establishing BP (Maxime ‘Buchi’ and Ian ‘Party’) type foundry during that time. Subsequently, in 2011, and at this time Ian was looking for a new partner to come in and be part of his journey. That’s the time Emmanuel Rey joined Ian in the company. Consequently, this is when BP became Swiss Typefaces.

Flash forward to 2013, this is when Ian invited me to come to work for him as a project and office manager at Swiss Typefaces. Our crew grew when we met Dennis through, and his prowess led us to welcome him aboard our team. We later met Emeric through Ian, they met via a shared love of cycling. I have to add that Emeric brings a unique touch to our team that goes beyond the boundaries of our industry. His perspective and experiences offer a refreshing dimension to our creative dynamic.

However, as time progressed, disparities in both creative direction and ethical values emerged within Swiss Typefaces. In response, Ian, Dennis and I decided to leave Swiss Typefaces in 2018, driven by our distinct vision and convictions we could no longer stay.

A year later, in the spring of 2020, amidst the height of a global lockdown, we took the bold step of launching newglyph. This decision was emblematic of our unwavering commitment to innovation and resilience even in the face of adversity. The circumstances of the world at that moment merely strengthened our resolve to carve our own path and redefine the possibilities within our industry.



How did you land on the name?


The process of selecting the name ‘newglyph’ was a collaborative and serendipitous journey. Ian and I were deep in brainstorming various names, with Ian playing a pivotal role in the final choice. Finding the name took us on an emotional journey.

Initially, our aim was to secure a domain name that resonated with the essence of type design, while also being available in the .com domain. We embarked on this naming quest, filled with ideas and concepts, only to find that many of our initial choices were already claimed.

Amidst this exploration, there came a pivotal moment that can only be described as a stroke of inspiration. Ian experienced what can only be characterised as a ‘eureka’ moment, a sudden surge of clarity. He proposed the name ‘newglyph,’ and as if by destiny, everything fell into place. The name encapsulated our ethos and aspirations seamlessly.

The term ‘newglyph’ aligned perfectly with our core values, as it encapsulated our unwavering commitment to forging ahead into the uncharted territories of type design. It struck a chord because of our continuous focus on pushing the boundaries of type design, especially through the development of variable fonts.

In essence, ‘newglyph’ emerged as the embodiment of our forward-looking perspective, symbolising our dedication to innovation and our journey towards redefining the landscape of type design.


Can you tell us more about your noble decision to donate 10% of your proceeds?


The decision to allocate 10% of our proceeds to charitable causes was one that resonated deeply with our values and aspirations. This commitment was not just an incidental choice, but a conscious one that emerged from a longstanding desire to make a positive impact on the world. While this endeavour wasn’t as feasible in our previous company, the creation of newglyph provided the perfect avenue to integrate this philanthropic mission.

Our motivation behind this initiative was rooted in the belief that businesses have the power to affect meaningful change beyond their immediate scope. With this principle at the forefront, we formulated newglyph’s mission to include active support for charitable causes. We carefully selected three non-profit organisations – The Ocean Cleanup, The Red Cross, and Enfants du Monde – whose initiatives deeply aligned with our vision for a better world.

Each of these organisations, in its unique way, contributes to vital causes. The Ocean Cleanup’s efforts in addressing environmental challenges, The Red Cross’ humanitarian aid; and Enfants du Monde’s commitment to the well-being of children all stood out to us as impactful endeavours that we were honoured to support.

In addition to the tangible benefits of our donations, we recognised the potential for our decision to spark crucial conversations. By integrating this philanthropic focus into our business model, we hoped to draw attention to urgent global issues and engage in meaningful dialogues within our design community. Through these conversations, we aimed to underline the transformative power of design in effecting positive change, not only for people but also for the planet.

In essence, our decision to donate a portion of our proceeds was emblematic of our dedication to fostering a better world through our creative endeavours, and we were eager to encourage others to join us on this journey of impactful design and purposeful contribution.


What would you say unites you as a team?


What binds us together as a cohesive team is the tapestry of our individual strengths and unique expertise. It’s our divergent talents that forge an unbreakable bond. Our collective composition is a symphony of specialisation, and it is precisely this harmonious blend that propels us forward.

At the core of our team lies Ian, an indomitable force in the realm of type design. His proficiency not only drives our efforts but also serves as a wellspring of historical knowledge, making him a veritable type design historian within our ranks.

Emeric’s specialisation in organisational and business management adds a strategic dimension to our endeavours. Beyond this, his invaluable contributions lie in the fresh perspectives he brings. His incisive questions and distinctive approach have a knack for prodding our concepts, channelling them into new and unexplored avenues.

Dennis, our visual virtuoso, is akin to an encyclopaedic source of design wisdom. His wealth of expertise spans the domains of graphic design, web design and type design. His multifaceted insights infuse our work with a visual dynamism that’s unparalleled.

As for myself, my role extends to sharing and disseminating our work and thoughts. I bridge the gap between our creations and the wider world, fostering communication and understanding.

The synergy we cultivate as a team is aimed at one singular goal: to craft an unparalleled type design experience. Each of us contributes a unique thread to this intricate tapestry, weaving together our specialities and perspectives into a cohesive whole. It’s this unity in diversity that allows us to create, innovate, and pave the way for an exceptional type design journey.



And what is the thread that ties your typefaces together?


The defining thread that interweaves our typefaces is an homage to the design paradigms of the 17th and 18th centuries, encapsulating a pre-modernist aesthetic. While this narrative is underscored, I must also emphasise its connection to Ian’s visual and Swiss cultural identity. This continuum is an exploration of the ethos that defined the era of Louis XIV, a period marked by the emergence of neo-classicism and radical ideation.

At the core of this connection lies an admiration for the underpinnings of design during this period. It is a salute to a time when the foundations were laid for what would become a fundamental shift in design philosophy – a transition from the humanisation of shapes to a geometric logic that carried a palpable sense of curvature.

The roots of this journey can be traced to early 17th-century France; a fertile ground for the germination of architectural, landscape, and artistic endeavours that laid the groundwork for the pre-modernist aesthetic. The elegant curves that pervade our type design, reminiscent of the dynamic aesthetics of that era, can be found in the echoes of this time.

The guiding principle behind Ian’s work has been to construct a comprehensive library of fonts, all enrobed in the versatile variable format. These encompass a spectrum ranging from the classics such as Garalde and Didot to the trinity of grotesques, each offering a unique expression.

Furthermore, he strives to provide essential design tools, especially in the realm of variable formats, catering to designers and design studios alike. This includes a subtle homage to the Swiss modernist approach, infusing his work with a touch of precision and clarity that echoes the hallmarks of Swiss design philosophy.
In essence, our typefaces are a bridge connecting the legacy of the past with the horizons of the present, embracing the elegance of bygone eras while carrying forward the spirit of innovation and design excellence.



What is your typical process behind a new typeface? Do you split the work between you, or do you each focus on one typeface as your own?


The typical process we follow for launching a new typeface involves a division of responsibilities that plays to our respective strengths. To elaborate, this process can be broken down into distinct phases.

Design phase – the foundational design work for the new typeface is undertaken entirely by Ian. His expertise and proficiency in type design make him the driving force behind the creation of the font itself.

Visual communication – once the design is in place, the communication phase is a collaborative effort between Ian and Dennis. Their combined talents contribute to shaping the visual aesthetics of the typeface, ensuring that it aligns with our vision and resonates effectively with our audience.

Communication and distribution – this is where our collective efforts come into play. Communication and distribution strategies are devised collaboratively among all team members. Each person’s unique insights contribute to crafting a compelling narrative around the typeface and determining how it will be presented and shared with the world.

While our roles may be distinct in certain phases of the process, it’s important to note that collaboration remains at the heart of what we do. Our individual strengths come together to form a cohesive whole, ensuring that every aspect of the typeface’s development, from design to presentation, is executed with precision and intention.

In essence, our approach reflects a harmonious balance between specialisation and collaboration – a synergy that drives us to create typefaces that are not only technically exceptional but also visually captivating and thoughtfully communicated to our audience.


Which typefaces have been the most impactful and influential for you as a foundry?


The typefaces that have left the most impactful and enduring impressions on our foundry are undoubtedly the members of what we call the ‘Groteque’ series. This ‘ABC’ trilogy, which includes Antarctica, Baikal, and Crystal, holds immense significance in our journey for several compelling reasons.

The ‘Groteque’ series has been a culmination of extensive efforts and meticulous craftsmanship on Ian’s part. This trilogy symbolises a reflection on the very essence of the grotesque genre, exploring its dimensions and nuances with the precision and finesse that Swiss design culture instils. This cultural backdrop is not just incidental; it’s a profound influence that has shaped our collective perspective, mirroring the visual environment that Ian has grown up with.

Among these, Antarctica stands out as a testament to the convergence of years of practice and exploration. It holds a special place, it has allowed Ian to delve into the extremities and exploration of variable design. This typeface serves as a canvas to portray the entire spectrum of the grotesque aesthetic – from the ultra-condensed to the extra-extended, from contrasted to non-contrasted versions, and every variation in between. It encapsulates the DNA of the grotesque genre, enabling Ian to express its identity in its entirety.

Moreover, this series serves as Ian’s experimental platform to explore the intricacies of designing and constructing a variable font. Beyond its technical significance, it has resonated remarkably well with our audience, earning the distinction of being our best-selling typeface to date.

Ultimately, the ‘ABC Trilogy’ draws inspiration from iconic predecessors like Univers, Unica, Helvetica, and Akzidenz Grotesk, weaving a narrative that speaks to both tradition and innovation. These typefaces embody not only Ian’s commitment to the craft but also his enduring fascination with the evolution of type design.


How do you decide what retail typeface to create next?


The decision-making process behind selecting our next retail typeface is a harmonious blend of established design principles, strategic considerations, and creative aspirations. Ian’s approach to typeface creation is illustrated by well-defined categories, each serving a unique purpose and catering to distinct needs.

Classic Collection – when we embarked on this venture, Ian laid the foundation by envisioning a font library that encompasses what he deems to be quintessential classic fonts. This collection encompasses genres like Grotesk, Didot, Geometric, and Garalde styles. Prioritisation is guided by commercial viability and sales potential, aligning with the demands of the market. However, within this framework, there’s also room for fonts that resonate with Ian’s personal creative vision, adding an element of artistic expression to our portfolio. An example of this approach is our upcoming addition to the Classic collection, the ‘Romain Du Roi.’

SwissKnife Collection – our SwissKnife collection is marked by accessibility and affordability. Comprising four Swiss-style essential fonts, this collection seeks to make high-quality typefaces accessible to a wider audience, in line with our ethos of democratising design.

Discovery Collection – the Discovery Collection allows Ian to have a creative playground – an avenue for him to freely explore his ideas. This collection takes a more spontaneous approach, with fonts conceptualised and completed within a shorter time frame, typically ranging from a week to a month. The fonts within this collection are experimental in nature, providing a platform for Ian to delve into uncharted territories. These typefaces serve as stepping stones, potentially leading to larger projects down the line. For instance, the Oddity and Stardust typefaces emerged from this collection, serving as an exploration of design extremities.
In essence, our approach is a blend of strategic foresight, creative passion, and a dedication to providing a diverse array of typefaces that cater to different needs and aspirations. It’s a delicate balance that allows us to maintain a connection to tradition, innovate in design, and remain responsive to the evolving demands of the design landscape.


What inspires Ian’s work?


The wellspring of his creative inspiration originates from a multifaceted realm, seamlessly intertwining the intricate threads of type design history with the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary graphic design.
Delving into the archives of type design history serves as an enduring and abundant source of inspiration. The allure emanates from the exploration of the diverse visual design principles interwoven within the classics – Garalde, Didot, and company, what he considers the classic. The captivating aspect lies in the intricate dance between these distinct styles and genres. This juxtaposition stimulates a passionate creative drive, a spark ignited by the harmonious interplay. The variable format stands as a vehicle for this exploration, providing a conduit to delve deep into a typeface’s essence. It unveils its character across a spectrum of forms: condensed, extended, regular, italic, bold, and light. This dynamic format grants the ability to unearth the fundamental DNA of type design genres, unlocking the profound essence that defines, for example, a Didot or Garalde in their countless variations. This approach, comparable to ‘typographic ethnology,’ grants him an intimate understanding and an opportunity to celebrate the distinctive attributes woven into the fabric of each genre’s historical narrative.

Balancing this historical foundation is the contemporary current of graphic design, which exudes a magnetic allure of its own. Ian’s creations are tailored for graphic designers and seamlessly align with his unwavering passion for the contemporary design landscape. As a designer himself, he draws inspiration from the unfolding narratives of the present.

In addition, our fonts serve as more than mere symbols; they are tools – empowering today’s designers and tomorrow’s visionaries to manifest projects that resonate with their dreams and aspirations. The essence lies in providing them with precisely the tools they need, meticulously curated to navigate the rich technological palette available in the current landscape. This symbiotic relationship with contemporary design fuels our creative wellspring, propelling us to provide fonts that transcend mere symbolism, emerging as dynamic catalysts within the ever-evolving design ecosystem.

In conclusion, Ian’s vision of type design thrives at the crossroads of venerating history and embracing contemporary dynamism. This intersection gives rise to a path that weaves the intricate legacy of type design into the immediacy of modern creative expression, reflecting his deep-rooted appreciation for the past and his unyielding drive toward innovative design.


Can you tell us about SwissNow – the first release in the SwissKnife collection – and what we can expect in the future?


SwissNow, the debut release in our SwissKnife collection, serves as a homage to the rich legacy of modernist Swiss design. Drawing inspiration from the iconic Swiss grotesque typefaces, SwissNow encapsulates the history and design traditions that define this revered genre. This font family represents a fusion of tradition and innovation, bringing the spirit of Swiss modernism into contemporary design endeavours. SwissNow is part of a collection that embodies accessibility without compromising quality – an offering that’s tailored to provide designers with high-quality fonts at an affordable price point.

Looking ahead, the SwissKnife collection is set to unfold with exciting releases. In fact, by the time this interview is published, the next release may already be available. This forthcoming typeface emerges from a unique collaboration with Dennis Moya Rafafimandimby, inspired by his curated collection of Swiss graphic design found on his Instagram account, @SwissPosters. This font family captures the essence of Swiss Posters by offering a condensed version of a Swiss modernist font – a tribute to the dynamic world of contemporary graphic design.

Among the upcoming releases, you can also anticipate SwissTime – a typeface that draws inspiration from the timeless aesthetics of the ‘Times’ typeface, an emblem of precision and elegance.
Further down the road, SwissDin, an architectural font in a constructed style, is also on the horizon – a reflection of Swiss design’s affinity for form, structure, and function.

Lastly, the collection ‘Archetypes of Swiss Type Design’ is poised to encapsulate the essence of the past three decades of Swiss type design. This collection aims to distil Swiss design’s evolution over the last 30 years into four distinct styles and genres, offering a condensed yet comprehensive snapshot of the journey.
In essence, the SwissKnife collection represents a dynamic blend of tradition and innovation, history and contemporary flair, all crafted to empower designers with versatile tools for their creative projects.


What are you working on at the moment? Is there anything you can give us a preview of?


Right now, we’re riding the wave of creative inspiration, diving into a wide range of projects that really showcase Ian’s passion for innovation and top-notch design. As mentioned earlier, we’re on the brink of releasing the SwissPosters font, and Swiss Din is also gearing up for its debut later this year.

At the same time, Ian’s been on an incredible three-year journey with the Romain Du Roi font, a true testament to his dedication and craftsmanship. Speaking of dedication, he’s also committed to fine-tuning our existing fonts, with a special focus on introducing italics to various families, adding even more versatility.
Plus, there’s the whole exciting endeavour of designing a brand-new website. And here’s the kicker – when that shiny new site goes live, all our font families will be complete, including the addition of italic versions. This comprehensive approach underlines our commitment to providing versatile typeface solutions that cater to the varied needs of the design community.

In a nutshell, our current projects really capture our unwavering drive to push creative boundaries, enhance our font offerings, and create a seamless online presence that reflects our growth and dedication to the craft. We’re eagerly looking forward to the day we can proudly showcase the results of all this hard work to the design world.



How do you think type design and the typographic retail landscape will evolve in the coming years?

When considering the future of type design and the typographic retail landscape, our analysis indicates a relatively stable trajectory in both the short and long term. Over the last decade, the landscape has undergone notable developments, and we foresee that these trends will largely persist.

In the short term, we anticipate the emergence of numerous micro-foundries, contributing to a diverse and dynamic typographic ecosystem. The established pattern of major retailers continuing their font distribution efforts will likely endure. E-commerce and subscription models have already solidified their place as dominant sales channels, leaving little room for radical change in online font selling methods.

Noteworthy players like Google, with its free fonts, and for example, Font Stand offering font rentals, have made their mark. Monotype holds significant influence as a major distributor, encompassing a substantial portion of fonts available worldwide. As for smaller companies like ours, I foresee a certain status quo, with few revolutionary shifts anticipated in the typographic retail landscape.

However, one potential avenue of evolution revolves around the growing interest of giants like Monotype and Adobe in variable fonts. This new format, we believe, has the potential to become an industry standard. This is evident in Adobe’s choice to primarily release fonts in variable format. The inherent design flexibility of this format resonates, providing designers with an expansive creative canvas while utilising a single font.

It’s worth noting, though, that this trajectory may be most relevant to what we consider the ‘Classics’ genre, and perhaps less so for display or experimental typefaces. The variable format’s standardisation might find greater significance within the confines of classic typefaces, offering new dimensions of creativity and expression.

So, to sum it all up, while the world of fonts might not change too much, keep an eye out for the rise of variable fonts, especially in the ‘Classics’ category. It’s like giving an old friend a fresh coat of paint – a timeless makeover that’s going to redefine the way we experience fonts. But don’t worry, the playful and experimental side of type design isn’t going anywhere!