Together, Equitan Sans and Equitan Slab make up an astounding 28-font super family. The two typefaces serve up industrial-era letterforms, refreshed for a new century. In terms of design, these matching sans serif and slab serif faces compromise an anthology of some of the best characteristics of nineteenth century display typography. You could consider them as the steampunk addition to the Indian Type Foundry retail library.
Equitan Sans and Equitan Slab are ITF’s first matching sans serif and slab serif families for the Latin-script. Both typefaces are available in seven weights; each weight has an upright and a italic font on offer. Their character sets include 418 glyphs per font. Equitan Slab’s italics are ‘true italics’, while Equitan Sans offers a more oblique solution. Although each typeface is great on its own, Equitan Sans and Equitan Slab should be used together. This super family is ready for use in branding projects and packaging design. Although Equitan’s designer, Diana Ovezea, was inspired by a specific typeface – Palmer & Rey’s 1884 ‘48 point Antique’ – Equitan is not a literal revival. While developing Equitan Sans and Equitan Slab, Ovezea aimed for a low-contrast letter forms, as you might expect in a slab or sans family.
Equitan Sans, with its closed apertures and arched shapes, resembles nineteenth century grotesques and offers a quiet balance to the outspokenness of Equitan Slab, while retaining similar skeleton forms. Despite this, it is not sterile, like so many of the mid-twentieth century neogrotesk typefaces. Equitan Slab’s uppercase create an almost woven pattern when set together, because of their oversized serifs. The italics follow suit, and include long outstrokes. These curls create a playful take on recognisable elements of the ‘Scotch Roman’ genre. Ovezea wanted to make a type family that is both sturdy and flavourful.
Wherever possible, the counters in both of the families are rounded, such as in b, d, p, q, 6, or 9; even the bottom counter of the ‘g’ has an atypically rounded counterform. The same two-storey form is used for the lowercase ‘g’ in both the Equitan Sans as well as the Equitan Slab fonts. However, its ear curls up in the slab serif fonts, while it lies flat in the sans. The most recognisably ‘Equitan’ character in the whole super family is the lowercase ‘y’, which has a straight tail, instead of a diagonal one. From Equitan Slab, the most striking characters are the arched-up legs of the capital ‘R’ and lowercase ‘k’, as well as the tail of the capital ‘Q’. The default numeral style in all 28 fonts are proportional oldstyle figures. Over an OpenType feature, tabular versions are available, as well as lining figures.
The name ‘Equitan’ is an anagram of the word ‘Antique’. Although slab serifs are typically associated with type classification terms like ‘Egyptian’ or ‘Ionic’, the name of the the first slab serif printing type – as shown in Vincent Figgins’s 1821 specimen – was ‘Antique’. Antiques were the predecessors of the Clarendon style typefaces, which began appearing in 1844. Initially, typesetters would use Clarendon faces to help emphasise something in a text. Eventually, designers would begin using bolder weights of the text face instead, and Clarendon types went on to be used in all sorts of environments.
Palmer & Rey’s 1884 ‘48 point Antique’, which set Ovezea off on the journey that would lead to Equitan Sans and Equitan Slab, is rather naïve by today’s standards. Its lowercase letters are optically overcorrected, and they don’t exhibit enough consistency for contemporary graphic designers to want to use them. Still, Ovezea was fascinated by the old-fashioned skeleton forms of these letters, with their very long serifs and comparatively closed apertures. It seemed as if they were hiding a secret elegance that she could only release by making a new typeface. In fact, Ovezea’s biggest achievement in Equitan Sans and Equitan Slab was her ability to convert centuries-old display ideas into working text letterforms for twenty-first century use.
Born in Romania, Diana Ovezea lived in Vienna before moving to the Netherlands to study typeface design at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague. Today, she lives and works in Amsterdam. Ovezea has previously released fonts through Gestalten in Berlin; Equitan Sans and Equitan Slab are her first ITF release.