Kate Vasey Article By Kate

The Northern Block’s 2018 In Review

News

As the year draws to a close, we reflect on another great year for The Northern Block. This year has brought many exciting changes to the company. Beginning with the launch of our brand new website featuring a fresh new design, improved navigation and buyer experience as well as the introduction to our blog and offering more opportunities to collaborate.

Our 2018 Typefaces

Throughout the year we have released eight new typefaces, beginning with the pragmatic sans-serif Paradroid which was the first type family to be added to our new website. Followed by the release of the calligraphic sans serif, Manofa, inspired by Warren Chappell’s Lydian and originated from the experiments with the shape and form of the letter “O”.

Over the Summer we saw the first of two collaborative type families, beginning with condensed display sans-serif, Ordax by Pablo Balcells. We also introduced Loew Next and our first ever Arabic type family Loew Next Arabic to our font library, the modern, honest and straightforward go-to sans serif aimed at a global user. This project in particular, has been a real labour of love for us and a huge game changer for the company. We are hoping to showcase more non-latin scripts to our font library in the near future.

Autumn saw the release of our second collaborative type family Spencer, a calligraphic semi-serif by Sofie Beier named after Herbert Spencer, an educator and researcher of legibility at the Royal College of Art in the sixties and seventies, and influenced by other early typographers and legibility researchers, such as Walter Tracy and John Harris. Spencer was designed as part of a legibility study by Sofie Beier and Kevin Larson – you can view their research here. Followed by the release of a modern super family Nuber Next, influenced by the popular neo-grotesques of the 1950s including Helvetica and Univers. Carefully remastered from the original Nuber type family to improve letter shape, overall uniformity and introduce a flexible width system capable of handling a wider variety of modern typographic methods.

Strongly finishing off the year with a geometric slab serif, Hefring Slab inspired by the work of the renowned designer Margaret Vivienne Calvert.


Conferences

This year has seen the team travel out of the UK to visit two of the biggest conferences in the type industry. The first being TypeCon 2018 held in Portland, Oregon which was attended by Scott, the other was ATypI 2018 held in Antwerp, Belgium which was accompanied by Malcolm, Mariya, Scott and myself. The latter we covered in this blog post. We had a great time meeting and networking with other professionals in the industry.

New Studio

A significant change for us has seen us move into a brand new studio space. Our new location has allowed easier access for the team and visitors, offers more facilities and extra space for us to work.

New Team Members

With the expansion of our studio space, we have also seen growth in The Northern Block team. Over the summer we have hired four new members; Juli Cheng (web developer), Donna Wearmouth (designer) and Jamie Chang and Hidetaka Yamasaki (type designer).

And speaking of our ever-growing team, we have not stopped yet! We are currently on the lookout to hire both an additional font developer and graphic designer. Interested? Or know someone who would be? Apply through our careers page.

Collaborations

During the year we have collaborated on two new type families, Ordax by Pablo Balcells and Spencer by Sofie Beier. We also welcomed one of our collaborators Ksenia Belobrova who joined us for a two-week visit and is currently working on her next typeface which will be released in 2019.

Business

Over previous years we have seen a steady progression of growth, and 2018 has been no different. We have renewed partnerships within industries such as Broadcasting and Gaming; but also broadened our reach into Real Estate, Global Banking and Sport. We’ve also made a conscious effort to reach out and build relationships with agencies and will continue to do so next year.

With the new office, the biggest team we’ve ever had, and a constant influx of projects; the business side of The Northern Block has been busy to say the least. With this in mind, we're all excited for what 2019 brings!

Next Year

So what’s next for us? Well, I guess you will have to stay tuned!
As always a huge thank you to our clients, customers and collaborators for their on-going support throughout the year and we hope to continue our relationship in 2019.

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