Kabella revival — Koch's swash cap/sans-serif design

I've been working on this as a student project, and I'm at the point where it's looking pretty good to me, but I'm hoping someone with more experienced eyes can point out the flaws I'm missing.

I've done upper/lower/figures/punctuation and extended western European so far. Most are based on the specimen I managed to get a copy of, but I filled in a lot of missing characters myself, inspired by the various existing versions of Kabel. I haven't done any kerning yet, but the sidebearings are working reasonably well.

I'm also really curious whether anyone has even seen this design before. It's Rudolf Koch's swash capitals designed to pair with lowercase Kabel—it was never given its own name (Kabella is my name for the revival) and there seems to be very little information available about it. He really seemed to love mixing different styles of upper and lowercase. Koch was really a fascinating character (no pun intended).



  • Oh, and just to introduce myself, yes I'm a student as mentioned, but working as a designer for several years now. I'm from Vancouver, Canada and have a growing obsession with type. This is my first attempt at designing a typeface.
  • It looks like the spacing on the lowercase isn't working quite right. Have you tried spacing it upright? Copy everything to the mask layer, slant to the left to make it vertical. Work out the spacing. Slant back to the right. Swap with the mask layer and align each glyph to the mask. You may want to offset everything a bit to the left afterward.
  • Ah, you're a genius! I could tell the lowercase were off overall but it was hard to pick out exactly which characters needed adjusting. It becomes very obvious when I make them vertical.

    I'm also wondering if there are any characters with major problems? I've done some optical corrections, like making the vertical strokes 28 units and horizontal 26, tapering before joints, etc.
  • > This is my first attempt at designing a typeface.

    Then you love to try very hard, considering that peculiar typeface for a 1st time.
    I do not wish to discourage you, but, from looking at Koch’s swash capitals just briefly, there are a lot of inherent flaws already, which do not make this an easy 1st-term task. Maybe there is a reason for that this has not been digitized before.
    – Anyway, Good luck!
  • ...it was never given its own name...
    Klingspor produced it (1933) in metal as Grotesk-Initialien according to several sources.

  • @George Thomas You're right—I have a copy of a 1935 type catalogue that includes it as Grotesk-Initialen. I just meant it didn't have a unique name like Kabel or Wallau or Jessen. My understanding is that Grotesk-Initialen essentially just means "capitals for sans serif".

    @Andreas Stötzner I appreciate the warning, but could you elaborate on the inherent flaws in Koch's design?

    Probably my main motivation for doing this project, besides the learning experience, is that I really like Koch's work and this design in particular, and I think it's worthwhile to preserve it and make it available for anyone that may want to use it, rather than sitting in a book in a museum where few designers will ever get to see it. I'm happy to release it with any inherent flaws it might have, but anything I can fix while still preserving the character of the design, or by adding alternates, would be fantastic. I do really have an appreciation for the idiosyncrasies in Koch's designs.
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