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2/06 2010

An afternoon with Hermann Zapf

Nadine Chahine and Prof. Hermann Zapf

A while ago I had the great opportunity to visit, with 2 colleagues from Linotype, Prof. Hermann Zapf and his most lovely and talented wife Gudrun Zapf-von-Hesse in their house in Darmstadt. As with every other visit, the Zapfs were the most congenial of hosts. What better afternoon can you spend, than that with legendary designers, discussing type design over tea and cake?




The occasion was to go over the final prints of Palatino Sans Arabic that Prof. Zapf and I designed. This, I have to admit, is probably my best design to date. The hours and days spent working alongside Hermann Zapf on Palatino Arabic had managed to somehow teach me, a non-calligrapher, the beauty of drawing calligraphic forms. For that I am eternally grateful.



The best part of the visit? Prof. Zapf wanted a small correction done, and when I offered to send him printouts of the new form, he shook his head, smiled, and said: “It’s ok, Nadine. I trust you.”




Palatino Sans Arabic is a companion to both Palatino Arabic and to Palatino Sans. It has the same metrics and forms as Palatino Arabic but has much less contrast and softer curves. Like its Latin companion, it is a softly spoken and friendly typeface that can be used for both text and headlines. More about that in later posts…

So what else did we talk about other than our upcoming release? The iPhone was a popular topic (yes I know what you’re thinking). And so was Facebook. More traditionally though, we had a most pleasant conversation about trends in type design today. Are there any trends? What are the most interesting typeface releases?

And though Hermann Zapf requires no introduction, or further validation for his outstanding contribution to the world of design, I was still very happy to find out that he has received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. This is the highest award that can be granted to a civilian, and this is a great way to honor such an amazing designer. But this award is also an honor to the whole of type design as a profession, and I hope that the type design community rises up to congratulate Hermann Zapf for a lifetime’s work of extraordinary inspiration.

A few colleagues attended the ceremony (the Zapfs and Linotype go way back…). You can see the photos on a dedicate page on the Linotype website.

And so again: Congratulations, Prof. Zapf! You are, and will always be, a great inspiration to us, and a master designer of the highest degree.




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