Varidox, a variable typeface design, allows users to connect with specific design combinations with slightly varied differences in style. These variations in design enable the user to reach a wider scope of audiences.
As the name suggests, Varidox is a paradox of sorts--that is, a combination of two disparate forms with two major driving influences. In the case of type design, the conflict lies in the age-old conundrum of artistic expression versus marketplace demand. Should the focus center primarily on functionality for the customer or err on the side of advancing creativity? If both are required, where does the proper balance lie?
Viewed as an art, type design selections are often guided by the pulse of the industry, usually emphasizing unique and contemporary shapes. Critics are often leading indicators of where the marketplace will move. Currently, many design mavens have an eye favoring reverse stress. However, these forms have largely failed to penetrate the marketplace, another major driving factor influencing the font world. Clients now (as well as presumably for the foreseeable future) demand the more conservative forms of monoline sans serifs. Typeface designers are left with a predicament.
Variable typefaces hand a great deal of creative control to the consumers of type. The demands of type design critics, personal influences of the typeface designer and the demands of the marketplace can all now be inserted into a single font and adjusted to best suit the end user. Varidox tries to blend the extremes of critical feature demands and the bleeding edge of fashionable type with perceptive usability on a scalable spectrum. The consumer of the typeface can choose a number between one and one-thousand. Using a more conservative style would mean staying between zero and five hundred, while gradually moving higher toward one thousand at the high end of the spectrum would produce increasingly contemporary results.
Essentially, variable fonts offer the ability to satisfy the needs of the many versus the needs of the few along an axis with a thousand articulations, stabilizing this delicate balance with a single number that represents a specific form between the two masters, a form specifically targeted towards the end user. Practically, a user in some cases may wish to use more conservative slab form of Varidox for a more conservative clientele. Alternatively, the same user may then choose an intermediate instance much closer to the other extreme in order to make a more emphatic statement with a non-traditional form.
Parametric type offers a new options for both designers and the end users of type. In the future, type will be able to morph to target the reader, based on factors including demographics, mood or cultural influences. In the future, the ability to adjust parameters will be common. With Varidox, the level of experimentality can be gauged and then entered into the typeface. In the future, machine learning, for example, could determine the mood of an individual, their level of experimentality or their interest and then adjust the typeface to meet these calculated parameters. This ability to customize and tailor the experience exists for both for the designer and the reader. With the advent of new marketing technologies, typefaces could adjust themselves on web pages to target consumers and their desires. A large conglomerate brand could shift and adapt to appeal to a specific target customer. A typeface facing a consumer would be more friendly and approachable, whereas a typeface facing a business to business (B2B) customer would be more businesslike in its appearance. Through both experience, however, the type would still be recognizable as belonging to the conglomerate brand.
The font industry has only begun to realize such potential of variable fonts beyond simple visual appearance. As variable font continues to target the user, the technology will continue to reveal new capabilities, which allow identities and layouts to adjust to the ultimate user of type: the reader.