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Creative Voices

Hidden Treasures: Reconstructing Lost Bauhaus Typefaces

Founded as a German art school in 1919, Staatliches Bauhaus—commonly known simply as Bauhaus—would remain in operation for only 14 years before closing under pressure from Germany’s Nazi regime. Nonetheless, the school’s ideology and founding principles lived on in the Bauhaus movement, which had a monumental impact on art across a spectrum of disciplines, from architecture to graphic design to typography. And now, in 2018, working at one of the original Bauhaus school buildings in Dessau, Germany, renowned typographer Erik Spiekermann and a team of design students have created digital typefaces based on type sketches and fragments that were hand-drawn at the school in the 1920s and 1930s—and these typefaces are coming to Adobe Typekit.

Adobe’s first “Hidden Treasures” re-creation brought to life digital versions of the brushes of Edvard Munch, for you to use in your own creations. For our second, we have worked with five design students, under the mentorship of Erik Spiekermann, to bring you four new Typekit typefaces, based on hand-drawn letterforms in the Bauhaus school archive. We’re making two of these meticulously reconstructed and digitized faces available to you now, with more to come in coming months.

Bauhaus typography is notable for its simple, balanced forms. These hand-drawn sketches and student work are archived at the Bauhaus school in Dessau, Germany. 

One of Bauhaus’s fundamental principles was a marriage of form and function. It was a style marked by simplicity and accessibility—clean lines and geometric compositions. The school’s founder, Walter Gropius, conceived of a place where artists could be trained in his avant-garde concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, the idea that all the arts could be approached in a unified way. It was art for the masses, based on the utopian idea that everyday objects should and could be both beautiful and useful—and could also be mass-produced by modern machinery. Bauhaus’s cubic buildings, minimalist furniture, and bold advertising posters continue to inspire creatives in all fields of art, craft, and design.

Nearly 100 years after the school was founded, a new group of students came to the Bauhaus school building in Dessau, Germany, to continue the typographic work of students who worked generations before them. One of the foremost authorities in the field of typography, Erik Spiekermann, working with experts at the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, facilitated the efforts to turn lost letter fragments and sketches into fully functional typefaces. 

We visited Spiekermann at the Bauhaus school building in Dessau, Germany, as he and the design students undertook this project. Watch our video to join him on this journey, and then visit Adobe Hidden Treasures to get the typefaces and start using them in your design projects. 

MEET THE STUDENT DESIGNERS

Céline Hurka grew up in Southern Germany and moved to the Netherlands to study graphic design at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague. She is expected to graduate with a BFA in the summer of 2019. In addition to her studies, she works on freelance projects in the cultural field, where she combines an interest in editorial design with an emphasis on type design and photography.

Graphic and type designer Luca Pellegrini first graduated as a technical industrial designer in 2012. Not satisfied, he decided to study visual communication and graduated in 2016. He fell in love with typography during his BA thesis, which focused on reviving a handwritten alphabet by Xanti Schawinsky, designed in 1932. His project received top grades and an award for best thesis in graphic design (2016). In 2017, he moved to Amsterdam for an internship at Mainstudio. The same year, he made a last study effort and applied to University of Art and Design/ECAL to study for an MA in type design. Luca is now based in Lausanne, Switzerland, and is approaching the second and last year of this program.

Elia Preuss grew up in the Ruhr region of Germany. He studied communication design at Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen and concluded his studies with a BA project on type design concerning children’s acquisition of written language in primary schools. After a year of work for the Smile agency in Essen, he applied for the type design class at HGB Leipzig, supervised by Stephan Müller and Fred Smeijers. He has been a student there since fall 2017.

Hidetaka Yamasaki is currently working toward a MA in typeface design at the University of Reading. He has been working on typeface design since he participated in Luc(as) de Groot’s seminar at University of Applied Sciences Potsdam in 2013. His focus lies on non-native scripts, mainly Latin. From time to time he translates art and design literature from German and English into Japanese, utilizing his academic background in art history and aesthetics, including the Japanese edition of Jost Hochuli’s Detail in typography. He completed an internship at Monotype’s Berlin office in 2015, formerly FontShop, founded by Erik Spiekermann.

Flavia Zimbardi is a type designer and visual artist from Rio de Janeiro, currently based in New York. From 2005 to 2013 she worked for some of the leading magazines in Brazil, receiving recognition from the ninth, tenth, and twelfth Brazilian Graphic Design Biennials, and was awarded with “Magazine of the Year” by Prêmio Abril de Jornalismo. Flavia is a graduate of the Type@Cooper Extended Program at the Cooper Union, and was the first Brazilian woman to have a typeface design—her graduation project “Lygia”—awarded by the Type Directors Club. In 2018, Lygia was also selected for the eighth Latin American Typography Biennial, Tipos Latinos.