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Gerard Unger

Dutch type designer, born in Arnhem, The Netherlands, in 1942, d. 2018. He studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Reading, and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. From 1974 on, he designed type, starting his career at Hell in Kiel in 1986. Until the end of his career, he taught at Reading and Rietveld. Unger designed stamps, coins, magazines, newspapers, books, logo's, corporate identities, annual reports and many other objects. But he was best known for his typefaces:

  • Markeur (1972), not available as digital type. Unger's first typeface, designed for Enschedé's Pantotype system.
  • M.O.L. (1974), not available as digital type. M.O.L. is the type used in the Amsterdam subway.
  • Demos (1975-1976, Linotype). Unger said once that this was his first face, and that he made it at Hell in Kiel in 1974 (but I am confused then as to the date of Markeur then).
  • Demos (new version 2001), available from Visualogik. In 2015, Gerard published Demos Next (done together with Monotype's Linda Hintz and dan Reynolds) at Linotype.
  • Praxis (1976, Linotype). Revived in 2017 as Praxis Next, also at Linotype. Linotype writes that the design is by Gerard Unger, Linda Hintz and the Monotype Design Studio.
  • Hollander (1983, Linotype).
  • Flora (1984). There is also ITC Flora (1980-1984). Named after Unger's daughter, this is an upright sans italic.
  • Swift (1985). This sturdy transitional typeface is his most popular design. It is used by many Dutch and Scandinavian newspapers, and got Unger the Gravisie-prijs in 1988. In 2009, Linotype published Neue Swift (a 1995 design by Unger), i.e., Swift with old style figures thrown in. See also Swift 2.0 (1995).
  • Amerigo (1986), available from Bitstream. This was originally designed for 300dpi laserprinters. It is a tapered almost lapidary typeface family. In the Bitstream collection, Amerigo is called Flareserif 831.
  • Oranda (1987), available from Bitstream. This is a slab serif originally drawn for the European hardware manufacturer Océ in 1968.
  • Cyrano (1989).
  • Argo (1991), available from Dutch Type Library.
  • Delftse Poort (1991), a stencil typeface not available as digital type.
  • Decoder (1992), available from Font Shop. This was a font from the FUSE 2 collection.
  • Gulliver (1993). This typeface was used by USA Today and the Stuttgarter Zeitung. Can be bought from URW++ from 2009 onwards.
  • OCW Swift (1995-1997, for Ministerie van OC en W, Zoetermeer - NL, by Visualogik Technology&Design).
  • ANWB fonts (1997), available from Visualogik.
  • Capitolium (1998). Capitolium was designed in 1998 at the request of the Agenzia romana per la preparatione del Giubileo for the Jubilee of the Roman Catholic Church in 2000. It was not used though for the millennium celebrations. In 2002, Capitolium was picked as the serif font for the material of ATypI in Rome. It was accompanied in that advertising by Unger's sans serif font Vesta (2001), loosely based on the lettering at the Vesta temple in Tivoli. He developed Capitolium futher to make Capitolium News and Capitolium News 2 (2011, Type Together), so that the adapted glyphs would be more legible (large x-height) and fit better on a page (more glyphs per line). The modern typeface Capitolium News 2 was published by Type Together in 2011.
  • Paradox (1999), available from Dutch Type Library. This is a Didone font done in 1999, for which he won a Bukvaraz award in 2002.
  • Coranto (2000). In 2011, Coranto2 was published at TypeTogether: Coranto 2 is originally based on Unger's typeface Paradox, and arose from a desire to transfer the elegance and refinement of that type to newsprint.
  • Vesta (2001). The sans serif Vesta (designed as a possible candidate sans serif for the Rome 2000 project) won an award at Bukvaraz 2001. It is available now as Big Vesta (2003).
  • Linotype Library is the licenser of the German government's new corporate design typefaces Neue Demos (Antiqua, 2004) and Neue Praxis (sans-serif, 2004) by Unger. The typefaces are to be used for all official correspondence, brochures and advertisements.
  • Allianz (2005) is a corporate type system with sans and serif typefaces developed with the firm of Claus Koch of Düsseldorf. The typefaces were designed in collaboration with Veronika Burian, London, and were produced as fonts by Visualogik, 's-Hertogenbosch.
  • Alverata (2013). A lapidary flared typeface with a huge x-height influenced by roman ("romanesque") lettering from the XIth and XIIth centuries. Alverata consists of three different fonts: Alverata, Alverata Irregular and Alverata Informal. For the development of the Greek letterforms, Unger collaborated with Gerry Leonidas (University of Reading) and Irene Vlachou (Athens). He cooperated with Tom Grace for the Cyrillic letterforms. Alverata was published by Type Together in 2014 and 2015. It appears to have Vesta's skeleton and dimensions. Alverata won the type design prize at Tokyo Type Directors Club 2016. PDF file.
  • Sanserata (2016, Type Together). The blurb: Sanserata is an articulated sans that mirrors Alverata's creativity and concept. Its bright and unflappable nature make it perfect for positive and casual brands, and its accentuated terminals improve legibility in text, especially on screens where light emission tends to round off the endings of glyphs.

Gerard Unger lived in Chicago and Bussum, The Netherlands. Besides the awards mentioned in the list above, he received global prizes for his typography, such as the H.N. Werkman Prize (1984), the Maurits Enschedé-Prize (1991), the 2009 SOTA Typography Award and the TDC Medal (2017).

Author of Terwijl Je Leest (Amsterdam, 1997) and Theory of Type Design (2018).

Interview by John L. Walters. At ATypI 2004 in Prague, he spoke about type for dailies, and also on Neue Demos and Neue Praxis. At ATypI 2008 in St. Petersburg, he spoke about letterforms in inscriptions from the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. FontShop link. Klingspor link.

View Gerard Unger's typefaces.

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Type designers ⦿ Type designers ⦿ Dutch type design ⦿ Commercial fonts (small outfits) ⦿ Stencil fonts ⦿ Type scene in Rhode Island ⦿ German type scene ⦿ Lapidary typefaces ⦿ Greek/Coptic ⦿ Cyrillic type design ⦿ Books on type design ⦿








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file name: Gerard Unger A Typ I2018 photo by Michael Bundscherer







Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html