2016

Alverata

— Gerard Unger

Type Design Prize


 

Alverata

Alverata is Dr Gerard Unger’s resolutely modern typeface inspired by his doctoral research on Romanesque type in 11th and 12th century Europe. Capital inscriptions are the basis for this face, which can be seen in its short, thorn-like serifs and flared forms. Alverata also brings in secondary considerations from the early 20th century model, but tweaks them to prevent blandness and imitation.
Alverata stretches conventional letterforms without disturbing readers with unfamiliar details. Its primary Romanesque forms are robust while refinement is shown through myriad details, such as how the curves meet stems and how terminals of curves are resolved. Alverata comes in three styles to serve a wide audience (Regular, Informal, and Irregular), each with their own purpose and feel. The Regular sets the overall tone while the Informal style introduces an unexpected softness with such things as a single-story ‘a’ and calligraphic terminals.
The Irregular style is where real distinction lies because it’s made for scenarios where combining uniqueness with eclectic historical reference is the primary goal. Curved shapes prevail in the conventional Latin lowercase, whereas straight lines and angles dominate in the uppercase. Alverata Irregular exchanges these characteristics, experimenting with the characters themselves rather than increasing their weight or creating an accompanying sans.
The secondary characteristics of the early 20th century model, mentioned earlier, are seen mostly in details and familial relation: Alverata has a large x-height, is slightly condensed, and has large interior spaces within letters. By attending to these details, Alverata performs beautifully in both digital and physical applications, delivering excellent openness and legibility in small text and proving lively and attractive at large sizes.
To complete the Alverata family, Dr Unger collaborated with Gerry Leonidas (University of Reading) and Irene Vlachou (Athens) to develop the Greek version, and with Tom Grace on the Cyrillic version.


Gerard Unger
Gerard Unger Born at Arnhem, Netherlands, 1942. Studied graphic design, typography and type design from 1963–’67 at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. He teaches as visiting Professor at The University of Reading, UK, Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, and he is Professor of Typography at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Free lance designer from 1972. He has designed stamps, coins, magazines, newspapers, books, logo’s, corporate identities, annual reports and many other objects, and typefaces.
He has been awarded several Dutch and international prizes and honours, such as two honorary doctorates by the universities of Hasselt, Belgium and Tallinn, Estonia. He has written articles for the trade press, and several larger publications, such as Landscape with Letters (1989), linking the usually limited scope of type and typography with a wider cultural view. His book Terwijl je leest — about reading —has been translated in Italian, English, Spanish and German. He lectures frequently in Holland and abroad, about his own work, type design, the reading process, and related subjects.