Design of a Digital Typography

A personal journal of my taking of the course ‘Diseño de una Tipografía digital de la A a la Z’ with Juanjo López.

Isam Alegre
3 min readJul 13, 2021


Step 1: Choosing a concept

In 1925, Herbert Bayer published Universal Type, the quintessential Bauhaus typography, «an integral aspect of the comprehensive reforms taking place at the school, reflecting the social, cultural and political climate of the time.»¹

Universal Typeface

Eight years later, Bayer would publish his homonymous font, Bayer Type. While it retained some pragmatic and minimalistic elements of its predecessor, it was much more fashionable and stylized. This reduction in Bayer’s idealistic approach to design may be a response to the German political climate of the time, «designed upon the sure basis of classical forms.»²

Bayer Typeface

This idea fascinates me: a typeface as a reflection of the political climate of the times. The zeitgeist captured not in the content of its texts, but in the visual form that those written texts take. The pragmatic social idealism of Universal becomes the neoclassicist Nazi-friendly grandeur of Bayer Type.

With this idea in mind, I set myself to construct a briefing for designing a font by asking: What is the zeitgeist? What defines the world we live in, and how can that be reflected in the shapes of letters?

My answer: Polarization.

We live in times of strong political divide. The abundance of laser-targeted content and the echo chambers of social media create world views that must coexist while trying to outsmart, debunk, or ridicule each other.

Meme from the r/Jordan_Peterson_Memes anticipating the Peterson vs Žižek debate in 2019

The idea for my typeface is, then, creating a Display font that marries elements of classic and elegant design with free strokes that break the harmony and geometry to achieve a freehand, almost calligraphic look.

Something a bit like this:

Detail of Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Age Of”, designed in collaboration with David Rudnick

Or this:

Lettering designs of Codea Studio for RTVE show “Mixtape”

My initial idea is to use Didot as the basic structure of the letters (although I’m still undecided about the serif style), and I will substitute some parts of the letter with stylistic, calligraphic strokes, losing legibility but hopefully achieving a powerful, unique look.

Here are some of my first drafts:

[1] McNeil, P., 2017. The Visual History of Type. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, p.223.

[1] McNeil, P., 2017. The Visual History of Type. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, p.282