Steven Heller’s Font of the Month: Bangel

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August 3, 2022

Naming a typeface is like naming a newborn baby, kitten or puppy. The name either must reveal heritage or suggest personality. Sometimes a name triggers obvious connections; for example, the given or surname of the designer(s) or client the face has been designed for makes a lot of sense. Other times the name is a deliberate enigma — the representation of a particular quirk either visible in the type design or a secret reference that only few persons will understand. I, for one, cannot understand why Art Grootfontein calls his new bold display family Bangel (a bangel — as opposed to a bagel — is loosely worn ornamental bracelet or anklet) especially since this design is solid and unornamented — but no less fun!

Bangel Solid, Black and Ultra Black are perfectly suited for modern newspaper and magazine headlines, posters, packages, just about anything. While very readable, the lowercase also evokes a light-hearted contemporary sensibility. My preference is for the lowercase letters. The caps alone do not provide the same witty energy as the lowercase settings. I also enjoy the curious anomaly: The bottom of the “g”, for instance, is ‘mistakenly’ cut off, leaving what looks like a tail. This works because our brains perceive the shape of the “g” even when part of it is missing; while the “y”, “p”, “j” and (I assume, although I don’t see it in the sample) “q” cannot be so cut off without losing its identifying form.

The most aesthetically pleasing letters are when the “u” and “n” are combined in a word like “thunder” — they fit harmoniously together, producing a pleasant space between the tail of the “u” and the nose of the “n”. Also pleasing is the “r”, which on its own has a quality that simply tickles the eye. Speaking of “eye”, my favorite letter is the lowercase “i”. It is possible that this “i” is the rationale for calling the font Bangel, as the dot reminds me of a hanging bangel.

The one quibble is with the need for either Bangel Black Rounded (which looks like Bangel Black slightly out of focus) or Bangel Black Wave (which I predict will become a typography student’s favorite because I see a lot of this forced distortion lately), when Solid, Black, and Ultra Black are all the options any typographer needs.

Font of the Month: Bangel
Designer: Art Grootfontein Foundry:  Art Grootfontein

Steven Heller is nothing short of a legend in the design community. Award-winning graphic designer, author and editor of hundreds of books (yes, 100s!) and one of the world’s foremost authorities on graphic design history; and arguably its best design commentator. Follow Steven on the must-read The Daily Heller and read his latest book, Type Speaks.