In the summer 2015 I helped Miles Newlyn designing a custom type for the Qatar Tourism Authority.
The brief was minimal and we could summarize it into ‘classic fashion brand stuff with a bit of calligraphy’. The clients asked for a type that was expressing the luxury, the exclusiveness of a holiday in Qatar.
We decided to go for a neoclassical face, the only letterforms that could easily convey the grandeur the client was looking for, with a strong contemporary touch: the sheared serif. Of course, designing a highly contrasted sanserif, based on the structure of a modern face, is not easily achieved: the serif helps the stability and the weight distribution in the letters, which is made difficult by the abrupt modulation of strokes. A highly contrasted sanserif is much more than a modern type without serifs.
The client initially asked for a font family with different applications: some styles for continuous text and others for headlines. But during the development they changed to a headline font that would also work well for body copy.
To achieve the calligraphic touch we were asked for, we kept some spiral-like shapes (the bowl of a, the lower counter of g), some lachrymal terminals (c, f, r, etc.) and more generally, a tension between a general roundness, a certain softness, and the sharp endings – noticeable in most lowercase letters.
This was our way to pay tribute to traditional Arabic calligraphy. We refused to borrow pieces of strokes or details from Arabic and insert them into our Latin letterforms, as we were initially asked.
The capitals are small in relation to ascenders, and their proportions too are generally based on the neo-classical tradition. We decided to avoid the Trajan proportions, as they are classical trademarks of western culture.
As the high contrast gave some problems in designing the capitals we added a little swelling at the end of the thin strokes.
Finally we designed a single set of lining figures of rather small size. Following the example of Bell, we designed numerals that are at three-quarter height, neither hanging nor fully ranging.