Allan Haley in Archive on December 15, 2011

Axel Bertram’s Rabenau™ typeface family – over 20 years in the making – masterfully combines neoclassical, baroque and calligraphic design traditions. Rabenau is harmonious, versatile and rich in typographic refinement.

Bertram has developed alphabets for magazines, television, branding – and even typewriters. However, none of these designs has been available commercially, as all of them are custom typefaces drawn for specific projects or corporate clients. In the mid 1990s, in addition to his on-going freelance projects, Bertram began work on a personal venture, which has culminated in the Rabenau typeface family.

Gestation, Evolution, Collaboration

Initially, Bertram intended simply to create a typeface for his own use in book design and related projects. Over several years, as he used the typeface, Bertram continued to refine character shapes and proportions, subtly adjusting individual letters. He reconsidered the structure of every detail, from counters and stroke terminals to serifs, in the interest of making the design appealing for a wide range of applications.

Well into the project, Bertram began working closely with calligrapher and type designer Andreas Frohloff, a collaboration that ultimately expanded Rabenau into a family of 16 designs – completing the transformation from a labor of love, to personal statement, to commercial product.

A Family For All Seasons

Bertram and Frohloff have given Rabenau a broad repertoire of weights and styles. The regular, book, semibold and bold weights each have italic complements. Four condensed designs, in addition to three very bold “poster” weights and a “shadow,” give the family remarkable versatility. Pronounced stroke contrast is maintained throughout the heavier weights, providing a distinctive sparkle, even at large sizes. Rabenau’s large x-height, bracketed serifs and ample proportions also ensure exceptional performance at small sizes.

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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