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Bely & FF Sanuk

October 19, 2016 by David Sudweeks

Let’s look at Roxane Gataud’s Bely with Xavier Dupré’s FF Sanuk. This summer at TypeCon I was pleased to meet Roxane Gataud and get to know more about this, her first release. Bely is a bookish magazine face in its text weights, with an editorially minded Display cut. FF Sanuk is a straight-sided tech sans, but, not so fast. Have a look yourself and see if you agree with me that its humanistic touches all but disqualify it from that classification. Squarish, yes, but it’s also full of warmth.

This is a relatively unconventional pairing, but one I was glad to see work. More conventional choices to complement Roxane Gataud’s Bely would be in the humanist sans category, like Gill Sans, or what you’re reading now, Xavier Dupré’s FF Yoga. I found instead a different family from the same designer, Dupré’s FF Sanuk Another thing you’ll notice about both designers is that they keep a focused idea of what belongs in the family, and what doesn’t. They don’t go out of their way to make something no one will use.

Speaking of having a sense for what belongs in the family, this is the latest addition to FF Sanuk, FF Sanuk Big, a separate optical size variant for setting the big stuff released just this month:

Note how its descenders and ascenders have been retracted and its x-height has been taken up, nearly to its cap height. These dimensions, and its overall tight fit give lines set in FF Sanuk Big a uniformity that aids the editorial designer by removing variables that would otherwise have to be addressed.

Together the two produce a crisp contrast, all the while maintaining a cohesion that unifies the compositions they set.