At the beginning of 2016, Boden, a UK-based fashion brand, commissioned The Northern Block to create a custom version of Qiber, a display handmade font already available in TNB library. The design team at Boden started using Qiber back in 2015, mostly for the material regarding their childrenswear range, such as catalogues and online communication. They used it extensively before approaching us at The Northern Block.
The original design for Qiber features handmade modulated letterforms with a coarse texture and sharp terminals. One peculiarity of the typeface is its mixed case setting for the lowercases while keeping a full uppercase-only set for capitals. The decision of mixing upper and lowercase was aimed at creating a playful and dynamic rhythm on the page.
Original Qiber sketches and Mini Qiber work in progress.
Due to the context in which Qiber was used for Boden communication material, some adjustments had to be made, especially considering that the custom design is mainly directed towards young readers and their parents, for a range of printed and web marketing materials, including catalogues and brochures, distributed in USA and Europe.
The brief for the new design, named Mini Qiber, consisted in the improvement of the unicity of shapes, in order to avoid confusion; better performance in German and French text settings and an additional bold weight. But the most important feature, was to abandon the mixed case lowercases and create two separate upper and lowercase sets, to facilitate languages such as German, in which all nouns are capitalised. The original character set is still present in Mini Qiber as a stylistic set.
The biggest challenge in this project was to modify shapes without compromising Qiber’s original characteristics and texture. Therefore several drafts were considered before moving forward with the alteration. For the modification to look consistent, the entire typeface had to be re-drawn.
During the development of Mini Qiber we were in close communication with the Boden design team, regularly updating them on the progress and making sure that testing of the design was being carried out on both sides. The continuous communication and the constant set of feedback were the key to the success of this design.
Mini Qiber in use by Boden.
It was a pleasure to work on the project and see it evolve. As a result, Mini Qiber is a great example of collaboration between the client and a designer.
A good typeface is a crucial design element that can be used to convey your brand’s proposition. What may seem a daunting challenge in commissioning a custom/customised typeface, whether it is handwritten or not, is in fact, a great way of adding value to the brand and creating a design ingredient specifically tailored to your business needs and values.
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