Ben Kiel’s custom typeface Egyptienne Compressed debuted this week in the 50th anniversary issue of New York Magazine.
The magazine has used various Egyptiennes through the years, and they have become part of its visual identity. Design director Tom Alberty and deputy art director Chris Cristiano commissioned a new interpretation of the style to expand their typographic palette for the anniversary issue. Ben’s new typeface complements their existing Egyptienne, while adding another tone to the page.
Photo-Lettering’s 1970s Egyptian Bold Cond (PLINC-4028)—featured in the old “Nixon eggplant” headline shown here—was likely based on an early 20th century Egyptienne by the Tetterode foundry in Amsterdam. That design was in turn copied from Schelter & Giesecke’s Halbfette Egyptienne from around 1880. Schelter & Giesecke’s sharper and quirkier design inspired Ben’s new Egyptienne Compressed.
For this display face, Ben paid careful attention to details. All the serifs align, for a tidy word image when set large (shown above). The uppercase ‘R’ and lowercase ‘a’ each have two forms: one with a tail and one without (shown below). The tails only appear when they have ample space or can tuck under the next letter. Otherwise, a special OpenType feature automatically substitutes the truncated form, to optimize the rhythm of the line.
Many thanks to our friends at Commercial Type, where this project originated. Back in 2013 they asked Ben to draw a proposal for a type family for New York Magazine based on the aforementioned Halbfette Egyptienne. It took a couple of years for the right moment to come about for the magazine to commission a custom face, but when they did Commercial Type referred the job back to Ben. The above scan of the Schelter & Giesecke specimen is from Commercial Type.
Egyptienne Compressed is under development and available for licensing immediately.