What is “Unger” as an adjective?

This refers to the “post-Unger” or “Unger” descriptors I saw type people online using when describing a typeface. I’ve done some digging but did not find any clear definition of how a typeface is “Unger”-ish.

Does this simply mean the modern Dutch style, i.e. resembling Noordzij’s broad-nib? Or the economical italics that are almost upright?

Or has Gerard Unger been such an influential figure in Dutch type design that many of his own typefaces indicate an underlying style for successors to emulate?
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  • Florian HardwigFlorian Hardwig Posts: 228
    edited December 2015
    You should ask the people who use these decriptors. One recurrent element in Unger’s typefaces are very high and acutely attenuated shoulders, so that counters can be as large as possible. But Unger is not a one-trick pony. If you read some Dutch, get your hands on his book Letters (De Buitenkant, 1994).
  • You should ask the people who use these decriptors. One recurrent element in Unger’s typefaces are very high and acutely attenuated shoulders, so that counters can be as large as possible. But Unger is not a one-trick pony. If you read some Dutch, get your hands on his book Letters (De Buitenkant, 1994).
    People commenting Tabac as “very Ungerish”
    People commenting Unger’s own Alverata as also “Ungerish /e”
    Erik Spiekermann describing Fred Smeijers’s Arnhem as “too Ungerish”

    And then, in addition to stylistic descriptor, Unger is now even a chronological stamp –
    Gerry Leonidas describing Nicole Dotin’s Elena as in a “post-Unger genre”: My eight

    I don’t read Dutch, unfortunately (maybe I should start learning). But from the Internet and your description, it seems to be an approach of enlarging the counter through vertical gain while horizontally compressing for economy? This seems to produce a lot of vertical stress axises, which are common to Unger’s own designs (Swift, Gulliver, for example).
  • kupferskupfers Posts: 259
    edited December 2015
    I don’t think these count for especially vertically stressed. I would consider the examples you name as descendants of the diagonal form model. Though he was/is not involved in the Noordzij school of thought and design.

    Exactly this “contemporariness”, very large x-height, very large counters, the shoulders, the often chunky simplified serifs, are what make his typefaces typically Unger to me. 
  • kupferskupfers Posts: 259
    edited December 2015
    But you also have to consider what his most iconic typefaces were designed for — first generation digital systems, bad newsprint, bad (printing) conditions in general, saving space, wayfinding, etc — and the design decisions become understandable. He was never a big revivalist or “literary book typefaces first” kind of designer, but an expert in “tricky conditions”. See more on this in Dutch Type and especially his own books, the one Florian mentioned and “While you are reading”.
  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 819
    edited December 2015
    Regarding "Erik Spiekermann describing Fred Smeijers’s Arnhem as “too Ungerish”
    Did Erik *really* say that? Where? Because the link you provide leads to a Kris Sowersby's text.

  • Regarding "Erik Spiekermann describing Fred Smeijers’s Arnhem as “too Ungerish”
    Did Erik *really* say that? Where? Because the link you provide leads to a Kris Sowersby's text.

    In the first paragraph of my link. Kris Sowersby is reviewing Arnhem, but in the first paragraph he is quoting Spiekermann.
  • Maurice MeilleurMaurice Meilleur Posts: 58
    edited December 2015
    ... Spiekermann, assessing Arnhem's headline cuts.
  • One thing Gerard mentioned to me once and that stayed with me as particularly 'Unger' is that he designs having the user, especially the not very typography-savvy user, in mind. One can pull and squeeze and squish his letters (within limits obviously) and they still look acceptable.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,406
    Would the non-savvy user buy good fonts like his?
  • One can pull and squeeze and squish his letters (within limits obviously) and they still look acceptable.
    As publisher of DTL Argo and DTL Paradox, I prefer these neither pulled, squeezed, nor squished TBH. What for me is typical ‘Ungerish’, is a certain rigidness in combination with a pattern that in most cases –one way or another– goes back to Gerard’s Hollander.
    Regarding "Erik Spiekermann describing Fred Smeijers’s Arnhem as “too Ungerish”
    IIRC, Gerard himself considered Arnhem too Paradoxish when it was released by Fred.
  • Would the non-savvy user buy good fonts like his?
    He often had newspaper publishers in mind, wanting to allow the fonts to be abused by typesetters and/or the constraints of that medium.
  • Thierry BlancpainThierry Blancpain Posts: 186
    edited December 2015
    Slightly off-topic post:
    One thing Gerard mentioned to me once and that stayed with me as particularly 'Unger' is that he designs having the user, especially the not very typography-savvy user, in mind. One can pull and squeeze and squish his letters (within limits obviously) and they still look acceptable.
    One thing I learned early on, that many here might disagree with, is that when setting long pieces of copy, you can often get away with setting one single line of text at 99.75% width or so in order to get a better line-break.

    In most typefaces this becomes problematic and quite visible below ca. 99.4% character width, but some typefaces endure more of that than others. That might be what Unger eluded to when saying that. Not 20% squishing, just a tiny bit to get that one word into the column when setting a newspaper in a hurry.

    Once you have the whole page set neatly, it’s extremely hard to notice which one is squished, and completely unnoticeable to a regular reader. And in return you get more beautifully ragged or justified text – and you’re much faster than if you had to rewrite the copy. This is critical and I imagine often done in newspaper, magazine, and book production.
  • Peiran TanPeiran Tan Posts: 22
    edited December 2015
    Slightly off-topic post:

    In most typefaces this becomes problematic and quite visible below ca. 99.4% character width, but some typefaces endure more of that than others. That might be what Unger eluded to when saying that. Not 20% squishing, just a tiny bit to get that one word into the column when setting a newspaper in a hurry.

    Once you have the whole page set neatly, it’s extremely hard to notice which one is squished, and completely unnoticeable to a regular reader. And in return you get more beautifully ragged or justified text – and you’re much faster than if you had to rewrite the copy. This is critical and I imagine often done in newspaper, magazine, and book production.
    I do the same thing too. In long-form typesetting I allow InDesign to scale my letterforms ±1%. When the type size is less than 9 points the difference – though principally sinister – is nearly undetectable. I also try to use a white space different from the built-in word space to allow more or squish out some. I’m quite surprised that Unger would design a typeface with a mindset to accommodate these practical concerns.

    It seems that Unger does have his own underlying styles. But Gerry Leonidas’s “Post-Unger” as a chronological distinction? Does he resemble or start an era in type design?

    ——

    Then Mr. Blokland,
    certain rigidness in combination with a pattern that in most cases –one way or another– goes back to Gerard’s Hollander.
    Can you elaborate more on what that “rigidness” and “pattern” is? I am seeing common qualities in a lot of Unger’s designs, but still not sure what you had meant.
  • If I recall correctly, he assumes that many newspapers will condensed his typefaces by about 5%. And not just for certain lines here and there, but all the time, as part of their standard settings. His assumption, also IIRC, is based on many newspapers having done just this over the past few decades – including USA Today, before their recent re-design.
  • I was only talking about the headline weights of Arnhem and I said “perhaps too Ungerish”. Never meant as a criticism, but as a categorisation. I then mentioned that both Fred and Gerard come from Arnhem in the East of Holland. Anybody familiar with the Dutch design scene knows that there are distinct “styles”, depending on the design scholl you come from. Very much like Basel and Zürich in Switzerland.
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