Malabar: a sturdy oldstyle face

Malabar® is a typeface for extensive text.. This study oldstyle serif family currently includes six fonts for the Latin script. The family grew out of Martel, a multi-script project that I created on the MA Typeface Design course at the University of Reading in 2008. Malabar received a Certificate of Excellence in Type Design at the Type Directors Club of New York TDC² competition in 2009, a silver recognition at the ED-Awards 2009, the Design Prize of the Federal Republic of Germany in gold for 2010, and first place in the type design category of Design Austria’s Joseph Binder Award 2010 competition.

A strong diagonal axis is apparent within the curves of Malabar’s letterforms. Sturdy serifs help strengthen the line of text in small point sizes, as well as define the overall feeling of the face. Malabar’s x-height is very high, a deliberate choice that make the most important parts of lowercase letters visibly larger in tiny text. The height of the capital letters is also rather diminutive, allowing for better character fit as well as eliminating a bit of clumsiness in German typesetting. As an oldstyle design, the Malabar’s Roman, or Regular weight, was informed both by contemporary ideas of typeface design (sheared terminals, the wider-drawn s) as well as by 16th-century masters. True to form, the design of the Italic references old types, as well as current needs. The slopes in the Italics begin at 9°. The Roman’s wedge serifs become more slab-ish in nature as the letters’ weight increases. Malabar Heavy is best relegated to headline use only. Malabar Bold and Bold Italic may be used for text emphasis, a job for which the Heavies are too dark.

While the forms of Malabar’s serifs were arrived at more arbitrarily than the terminals. Malabar’s lowercase letters have two sorts of serifs: those on the tops—at the x-height or on the ascender—and those on the bottom—on the baseline and beneath the descenders. The upper serifs are triangular and flag-like. The lower serifs are wedge serifs, and are asymmetrical. The left side of the lower serif has a steeper angle than the right. The general impression of these serifs, especially when viewed in larger point sizes, is that they are simple—perhaps even primitive. However, the directness of the serif treatment is rooted in the purpose of the typeface: small-sized newspaper printing. In tiny text sizes, serifs become so small that fine modelling treatments appear no different from wedges like those used in Malabar; depending on the printing quality employed, fine serifs may break apart all together. Malabar’s serifs were developed to avoid this problem. As for modelled serifs that may be appreciated in larger sizes only, Malabar is not timid; its sharp, direct serifs are a clear feature of its DNA.

Malabar Bold, Bold Italic, Heavy, and Heavy Italic do not have small caps or oldstyle figures, just lining figures. But they do share the same ligatures as Martel Regular, and have full sets of superior and inferior numerals. The design of Malabar’s Italic references old types, as well as current needs. Its slopes begins at 9°—Malabar Heavy Italic has a 12° angle. The uppercase letters, as well as the figures of the Italic family members, are more or less sloped romans. But the lowercase letters are much more cursive. Instead of serifs, their letters make use of clear in and out strokes. These feel like Malabar serifs anyway, since they are also long and sharp in their form.

Malabar is a trademark of Monotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions.

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Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable. But there are additional factors that go into the making of a good text face: the space between the letters, the degree of contrast in the letters’ strokes, as well as the x-height and relative size of the whitespace inside of the letters. Not every typeface that works well in text will apply all of these factors in the same way, but all good ones will have many of these features in common. 1234567890

34 px

Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable. But there are additional factors that go into the making of a good text face: the space between the letters, the degree of contrast in the letters’ strokes, as well as the x-height and relative size of the whitespace inside of the letters. Not every typeface that works well in text will apply all of these factors in the same way, but all good ones will have many of these features in common. 1234567890

30 px

Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable. But there are additional factors that go into the making of a good text face: the space between the letters, the degree of contrast in the letters’ strokes, as well as the x-height and relative size of the whitespace inside of the letters. Not every typeface that works well in text will apply all of these factors in the same way, but all good ones will have many of these features in common. 1234567890

24 px

Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable. But there are additional factors that go into the making of a good text face: the space between the letters, the degree of contrast in the letters’ strokes, as well as the x-height and relative size of the whitespace inside of the letters. Not every typeface that works well in text will apply all of these factors in the same way, but all good ones will have many of these features in common. 1234567890

20 px

Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable. But there are additional factors that go into the making of a good text face: the space between the letters, the degree of contrast in the letters’ strokes, as well as the x-height and relative size of the whitespace inside of the letters. Not every typeface that works well in text will apply all of these factors in the same way, but all good ones will have many of these features in common. 1234567890

16 px

Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable. But there are additional factors that go into the making of a good text face: the space between the letters, the degree of contrast in the letters’ strokes, as well as the x-height and relative size of the whitespace inside of the letters. Not every typeface that works well in text will apply all of these factors in the same way, but all good ones will have many of these features in common. 1234567890

12 px

Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable …

80 %

Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable …

60 %

Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable …

40 %

Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable …

20 %

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Every typeface has its own inherent rhythm, created by the designer who made the font. With typefaces that are intended for use in body text, it is primarily this rhythm that will make the typeface readable. But there are additional factors that go into the making of a good text face: the space between the letters, the degree of contrast in the letters’ strokes, as well as the x-height and relative size of the whitespace inside of the letters. Not every typeface that works well in text will apply all of these factors in the same way, but all good ones will have many of these features in common. 1234567890

Malabar is available on:

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