We at Frere-Jones Type have released our third typeface for retail licensing, Tobias Frere-Jones’ Exchange. I am particularly happy about this release; for one thing, it is a fascinating design that is as thoughtful as it is useful. As Tobias tells in his (highly recommended) blog post about the design process behind Exchange, the shaping of these letters consciously and purposefully draws inspiration from strategies and behaviors observed at different points in type history, to synthesize a result that combines their strengths into an intensely effective form that is forceful and reliable, but also feels contemporary and fresh. (I still remember first seeing Exchange years ago and being equal parts fascinated and confused by it — I could tell that it worked very well, but I couldn’t quite figure out how it worked, or which stylistic or historical “drawer” to stick it in. Now I understand why.)
Exchange was originally commissioned for newspaper text; we have worked to preserve the reliability and the serious tone that made it so good at that job from the start, but also adapt and expand the family to make it more widely relevant. With five weights and two sizes, this reimagined Exchange can take on a wide range of roles and voices in print and on screens, and accommodate varied platforms and scenarios for long-form and shorter text.
Since I joined Frere-Jones Type quite close to the launch of Retina, our previous retail face, Exchange is also the first release here in which I was deeply involved. Under Tobias’ thoughtful guidance and with help from Fred Shallcrass, Tim Ripper, and Graham Bradley, I worked on much of the “refreshing,” rethinking, and expansion of the family; it was intense and interesting work that got as directly practical as the expansion of the character set to cover our current standards, and as broad as rethinking the family structure and the overall proportions of the face. I am proud to have contributed to such a thoughtful and useful design that has taught me much, and I hope that it will get plenty of opportunities to insert its strong, sober, energetic voice into editorial conversations and beyond.