History - Parachute® on Tuesday, November 06th, 2012

In 1936 the German Standards committee Deutsches Institut Normung (DIN) officially proposed DIN 1451 as the standard type of lettering to be used in the field of road traffic. The purpose of this standard was to lay down a style of lettering which is timeless and easily legible. Unfortunately, these early letters lacked elegance and were not properly designed for typographic applications.

Ever since, several type foundries adopted the original designs for digital photocomposition. The first digital versions were released in 1990 by Adobe but only in four basic variations. Similar ones were also released by URW.
By early 2000, it became apparent that the existing DIN-based fonts did not fulfill the ever-increasing demand of complex corporate projects for more weights and support for additional languages.

Parachute® was set out to fill this gap by introducing the DIN Text series which, ever since, has become the most comprehensive and sophisticated set of DIN typefaces. It was based on the original standards but was specifically designed to fit typographic requirements. Completed in 2002, it was first released in 2003 and published in the award-winning catalog IDEA as a group of 4 separate families (original, condensed, compressed and a special display version) each with 12 weights, including true-italics, for a total of 48 weights and support for Latin and Greek.

By 2005, all families were upgraded to include 14 weights each, opentype features (small caps, etc) and extended support for all European languages including Cyrillic. Later, an additional Hairline weight was added to all families. Eventually, each superfamily ended up with 15 weights and an average 1280 glyphs per font. Finally, in 2010 Parachute® released 4 new families DIN Monospace, DIN Stencil, DIN Text Arabic and DIN Text Universal.
Altogether the Parachute DIN series is a set of 8 families with a total of 96 weights.

The DIN Text Pro has lowercase ascenders that are higher than the capitals, varying letter proportions and italics that are not a mechanically-obliqued version of the regular weights, but rather true-italics.

The letterforms divert from the stiff geometric structure of the original and introduce instead elements which are familiar, softer and easier to read. The other two superfamilies Condensed and Compressed share the same attributes as the original.

DIN Display Pro, on the other hand, was designed as an alternative to the DIN Text Pro series. While DIN Display seems to retain DIN’s basic characteristics, it shines with its sharper corners and contemporary look. This superfamily, just like the other three, is enhanced with true-italics.

PF DIN Mono is one of the latest additions to the ever-growing set of DIN super families by Parachute®. It was based on its proportional counterpart DIN Text Pro, but was completely redesigned to reflect its new identity. DIN Mono is a monospace typeface which is comprised of characters with fixed width. In the world of proportionality, DIN Monospace stands out as a fresh new alternative to the popular standard, particularly for publishing and branding applications. The Monospace family consists of 12 weights including true-italics.

Despite the fact that over the years several designers have manually created stencil lettering for various projects based on DIN, there has never been a professional digital stencil version of any DIN-based typeface. The DIN Stencil family manages to preserve several traditional stencil features, but introduces additional modernities which enhance its pleasing characteristics and make it an ideal choice for a large number of contemporary projects. Furthermore, the spacing attributes of the glyphs were redefined and legibility was improved by revising the shape of the letterforms. The DIN Stencil family consists of 8 diverse weights from the elegant Hairline to the muscular Black.

In 2010, Parachute® released -in collaboration with designer Hasan Abu Afash- 2 new versions. DIN Text Arabic is the basic Arabic version which includes Latin and supports all variations of the Arabic script such as Persian, Urdu and Pashto. The second version DIN Text Universal is the most advanced DIN superfamily ever. It combines the powerful DIN Text Pro with DIN Text Arabic bringing the number of glyphs to 3320 per font. It is also enhanced with 30 advanced opentype features and kerning for all languages. All together it supports hundreds of languages, proving to be an essential tool for corporations which operate internationally. The whole family consists of eight weights from extra black to hairline.

History - Parachute® on Thursday, February 03rd, 2011

Phaestos was an ancient city on the island of Crete. It was inhabited from about 4000 BC. The area upon which Phaestos stood was the site where a curious clay disk, containing a sophisticated pictographic writing, was discovered. It was the Phaestos Disk, an archaeological find, dating from about 1700 BC. The first moveable type! Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. An Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier discovered this remarkably intact “dish” (about 15 cm in diameter and uniformly just over 1 cm thick) in the basement of the Minoan palace site of Phaestos during an excavation on July 3, 1908.

Physical Description
The inscription was made by pressing pre-formed hieroglyphic “seals” into the soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiralling towards the disk’s center. It was then baked at high temperature. There are a total of 241 figures on the disc.
Many of the 48 different glyphs represent easily identifiable every-day things, including human figures, fish, birds, insects, plants, a boat, a shield, a staff, etc. In addition to these, there is a small diagonal line that occurs underneath the final sign in a group a total of 18 times. The disk shows traces of corrections made by the scribe in several places.

The Text
Although there is no official Unicode encoding for the symbols on the disk, the ConScript Unicode Registry has assigned a block of the Unicode Private Use Area to be used for the script. Two fonts include support for this area; Code2000 and Everson Mono Phaestos. The text on the disk is given on the second of these links; you can read that text if you have either of them installed.

Strokes and Direction of Reading
There is a number of glyphs marked with an oblique stroke, the strokes are not imprinted but carved by hand and are attached to the first or last sign of a “word”, depending on the direction of reading. Their meaning is a matter of discussion. One hypothesis, supported by Evans, Duhoux, Ohlenroth and others, is that they were used to subdivide the text into paragraphs, but alternate meanings have been offered by other scholars.

The diverse epigraphical facts (overcuts, angulous points of the spirals, corrections, etc.) reveal that the text was written from the perimeter to the center. The scribe was “composing” his text as he was printing it. There is therefore no way to disassociate the direction of printing from the direction of reading.

Attempted Decipherment
The Phaestos Disk captured the imagination of many amateur archeologists. Many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc’s glyphs. Historically, almost anything has been proposed, including prayers, a narrative or an adventure story, a “psalterion”, a call to arms, a board game, and a geometric theorem. Many enthusiasts still believe the mystery can be solved, as it is generally thought that there isn’t enough context available for meaningful analysis.


History, Tips & Techniques, designers - Parachute® on Wednesday, May 05th, 2010

Hermann Zapf is one of the most prominent type designers of the 20th century. He is best known for designing typefaces such as Palatino, Optima and Zapfino. Back in 1967, Hallmark Cards commissioned an educational film which documented Zapf’s techniques on type design and calligraphy. The purpose of this insightful film was to introduce aspiring calligraphers and art students to the art of calligraphy. Watch it in its entirety as you don’t get to see often this type of educational material by this master of the trade.
Mr. Zapf is a self taught typeface designer. It was during an exhibition in 1935 in honor of Rudolf Koch, when he got interested in calligraphy, so he purchased two books which introduced him to the art of calligraphy. Later he developed his craft with intensive periods of study at the Nuremberg City Library.
During his military service Mr. Zapf was placed in the cartography unit and due to his talent and his excellent eyesight on writing small size letters without using a magnifying glass he was never transferred to another unit. After the war Mr. Zapf moved to Frankfurt where the Stempel type foundry offered him a position as artistic head of the printshop. It is there where he created his first masterpieces Palatino and Optima. Sure Hermann Zapf’s life and work is a very important case of study for all us younger designers.

More info on this video

History - Parachute® on Friday, December 11th, 2009

A few months ago we visited the The Berlin Type Museum which preserves and exhibits a number of typographic signs rescued from old times. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Neon Museum offers a glimpse at the most treasured and famous signs of Las Vegas that was. Located on Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas, Nevada, the 3-acre lot known also as the Neon Graveyard or Boneyard, houses more than 150 historic, non-restored signs from the Caesars Palace, Binions Horsehoe, Golden Nugget, Silver Slipper and most recently the Stardust. The Museum is not currently open for general admission and visits of the collection are possible via tours by advance appointment only. The non-profit cultural organization that runs the museum is in the process of building a permanent facility which will be used as its visitor’s center. They are restoring the historic La Concha Motel lobby which has a unique curvilinear design created by the famous African-American architect Paul Revere Williams.


History - Parachute® on Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Our summer destination was Budapest the capital of Hungary, one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe with a flavor of art deco architecture. We paid a visit to the Budapesti Történeti Múzeum (Budapest History Museum) which is inside the palace of Budapest. One of the permanent exhibitions includes “Budapest in the Modern Age” which highlights the birth and development of Budapest. Guests may explore the city and how it came to be, its economy, the ephemeral life of its citizens and its officers. A large section of the exhibition revolves around the art of typography, with newspapers, posters, contracts, even citizen lists of the past centuries. A well organized exhibition which gives you an insight about the typographic culture of Budapest.

Budapesti Történeti Múzeum

from top to bottom:
Royal announcement (1774)
Poster of the Hungarian millennium (1896)
Regulations for the militia (1880)
Theate program for “Arpad’s Awakening” act (1837)

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