Smart, tough, and sexy. Hello Tungsten.That rarest of species, Tungsten is a compact and sporty sans serif that’s disarming instead of pushy — not just loud, but persuasive.Flat-sided sans serifs have been a vital part of graphic design since its very beginning. Like many of typography’s loveliest styles, these letters are an import from sign painting, where the style — doubtless because its kit of lines and curves resembles plumbing — is colorfully known as “Modern Gaspipe.” These modular letters were an important part of the twentieth century poster, bright and optimistic in the propaganda of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and peremptory in the Constructivism of the young USSR. In the service of any agenda, what these letters always signified was modernity, industry, and zeal.It was an unusual design brief for ourselves, completely without visual cues, instead trading in cultural associations: “more Steve McQueen than Steven Seagal,” reads one note; “whiskey highball, not a martini” suggests another. We decided to reduce the letterforms not to circles and squares, but to a manageable set of stated interrelationships — between inside and outside, uppercase and lowercase, and one letter and the next — that could be applied with equal consistency throughout the design. The result is Tungsten, a family of high-impact fonts that doesn’t sacrifice wit, versatility, or style.
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