Latinotype members collectively met 6 years ago, but Jorge Cisterna joined the foundry as a collaborator later (in 2015). So Atlan was the first opportunity for Daniel Hernández and Jorge to work together. The pair share a very similar view of type design, and I am sure you'll agree their debut collaboration is hugely successful!
Daniel has taken part in several successful projects such as Trend (co-authored with Paula Nazal) and Texta (co-authored with Miguel Hernández), both designers from Chile. Jorge had previously designed the Taberna font and Atlan is his second co-authored work.
As part of the search for sources of inspiration, Daniel and César Araya—another member of Latinotype team—visited San Diego, a popular neighbourhood in Santiago de Chile. It was here where the first printing houses were established during the Chilean golden age of the printing press (supposedly around 1950’s). Today, there are still a few places where some badly damaged and barely operating machines can be found. Under the guidance of César, they were able to find a repair shop and there, in a pile of stuff, found some boxes with full sets of metal type sorts, among which was Kabel, known in Chile as ‘Carnicería’ (Butcher’s).
That name probably refers to the fact that the font was used for meat-related items. Based on these observations, Daniel and Jorge set themselves the challenge of making a reinterpretation of Kabel—a classic well-known typeface designed by Rudolf Koch in 1927. This sans-serif font, with some elements of Art Deco, was based on geometric shapes and glyphs like ‘a’ or ‘g’ make anyone fall in love with it. Another interesting feature of Kabel is its small x-height, which makes it quite stylised and elegant. The font is extremely popular among designers as it looks very different from the rest of the typefaces of that time—inherent uniqueness of the Bauhaus style.
From the very beginning, Daniel and Jorge’s plan was to create a typeface with a more rational and geometric look (typical of fonts like Futura) that provided great versatility and functionality, and included, at the same time, some characters similar to those found in Kabel.
Their work process was developed on a ’turn-by-turn’ basis: they took turns once every two weeks when working on the design. Then, they got together to discuss on the corrections. At times, they agreed on what characters of Kabel they would used as models.
Eventually, they leant towards a more neutral and minimalistic font that could be used for continuous text and without losing the elegance of Kabel.
Both of them contributed to the design in their own way. Daniel opted for neutrality and focused on the overall design whereas Jorge concentrated on individual elements of the font.
After Daniel and Jorge finished the extreme weights using ‘Glyphs’ (their favourite design software), they decided the font needed a display variant with a strong personality. This was the most laborious part as they had to work hard in order to find the right contrast balance.
The process resulted in a total of 8 styles-6 of them are very uniform and ideal for text, and the remaining two are well-suited for use at display sizes.
A primary goal of the project was to meet current design needs and although Daniel and Jorge believe that today’s design needs elegant, stylish but versatile fonts, this may perhaps be far from reality. Only time will tell…
I believe the gentleman have done an exceptional job in reinvigorating a classic geometric type for contemporary design requirements. Atlan is destined to be a classic in its own right.