Posts Tagged ‘harmonia sans’

by Alyson Kuhn

Jim Wasco loves to talk about type, and when he does, he enthuses equally about highly specific details on the one hand, and the typographic big picture on the other. It’s not an either/or discussion – it’s a seamless interplay of influences and inspirations. With Wasco, you can indeed have it both ways. His newest typeface design, the Harmonia Sans family, is a perfect example.

Harmonia Sans

The name Harmonia Sans alludes to harmony in two realms, music and typography – and on two levels, the individual and the collective. Each musical note must be ‘right’ on its own, to ring true with the other notes in the phrase, and it must add to the composition as a whole. (Wasco, by the way, plays jazz piano every week as part of a sextet.) The letterforms of a typeface are even more inter-dependent, in that they must achieve visual harmony in almost infinite combinations. On the ‘collective continuum,’ Harmonia Sans also blends what Wasco describes as his “favorite aspects of the different sans – grotesque, humanist and geometric” in a new geometric design. He adds, “Harmonia Sans is geometric because the letters are based on a square, circle and triangle, just like architecture.”


The alignment comparison above illustrates Wasco’s decision to use calligraphic cap to x-height proportions for Harmonia Sans. The ITC Avant Garde Gothic design has a larger x-height, and relatively short ascenders and descenders, while the Futura family has a smaller x-height, with elongated ascenders and descenders. Wasco determined that the calligraphic proportions would serve to increase both legibility and typographic harmony.

Calligraphy instruction sheet from Paul Standard (circa 1950)

Calligraphy instruction sheet from Paul Standard (circa 1950)

Wasco neatly sums up his ‘calligraphic lineage’: “Dad went to The Cooper Union in the ‘50s. His calligraphy teacher was Paul Standard, who was a friend of Hermann Zapf’s. When I met Hermann, I mentioned Paul – and his face lit up. Many people credit Paul with popularizing calligraphy in America in the ‘50s.” Standard’s calligraphy instruction sheet above is based on a cap to x-height ratio of 7.5 to 5.

Calligraphy by Jim Wasco:  banner on a piano recital invitation (2007)

Calligraphy by Jim Wasco: banner on a piano recital invitation (2007)

Wasco has always favored a ratio of 7:5 for his own calligraphy, and the Harmonia Sans proportion is close to 7:5 as well. Click here to learn more about – and to license – the Harmonia Sans family.


Alyson Kuhn
Alyson Kuhn (a.k.a. Kuhncierge) writes frequently about paper and printing, including typography and postage stamps. On occasion, she teaches envelope-folding workshops. She lives in Carmel, California.


by Allan Haley

“I would describe the Harmonia Sans™ typeface as a contemporary approach to the geometric sans genre,” says type designer Jim Wasco about his most recent release. “The family contains a broad range of weights, widths, and language support, which makes it an excellent solution for just about any design project.”

Indeed, many of the sales of the typeface, made available just a few months ago, have been for the complete family. As a special offer endorsed by Wasco, two fonts from the Harmonia Sans family will be given away in the month of March with any purchase of fonts from

Traditionally, has given away a free font with purchases – but never two fonts, and never fonts from a brand new design. This is a pretty special gift of a very special typeface. With the purchase of any other fonts, semi bold and semi bold Italic OpenType™ fonts of the Harmonia Sans family will be automatically added – at no charge – to your shopping cart.

The complete Harmonia Sans family includes a total of 17 typefaces. Each of the five weights‚ ranging from light to black‚ has a companion cursive Italic. In addition‚ Wasco has drawn condensed designs for the regular‚ semi bold and bold weights. He has also designed four monospaced faces. The proportional weights are available as a suite of OpenType Pro fonts‚ allowing for the automatic insertion of old style figures‚ arbitrary fractions‚ tabular figures‚ proportional figures‚ discretionary ligatures and stylistic alternates. OpenType Pro fonts also offer an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.

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