Font Name: Sonar Sans · Designer ⇢ Hannes Famira, 2011
HistoryGeometric Sans Serif has always felt to me like a misnomer. It describes a class of typefaces, that was born between the last century’s world wars, as part of the re-invention of functional design. The initial intent was very much to rid type of all mannerisms, which at the time were felt to be historical baggage, that had no place in a new, modern world. The initial attempts to draw type, literally with a ruler and a compass were a refreshing new stab at letterforms where for instance the letter o was in fact a perfect circle. This works for light styles but, as it ignores the laws of optics, heavier styles look messy and legibility takes the hit in the name of style.
When studying the underlying structure of the geometric sans it seems obvious that it is in fact a special, low contrast variant of expansion style or modern typefaces. From that perspective Futura would just be a stylized Didot with drastically reduced thick/thin contrast. My uneasiness about this entire class of typefaces used to be rooted in the frigid sense of style, which of course makes perfect sense when considering the historical backdrop of its genesis.
Sonar is the attempt to marry the rule of geometric, historical form with the forgiving, human expression of early gothic typefaces. In fact, nothing about this typeface is truly symmetrical. The geometric nature of the underlying model merely served as a starting point to find the shapes of a low contrast expansion typeface. Through Sonar it seems that I have finally made piece with the Geometric Sans.