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Ivy à la mode

Originally intended as a high-contrast companion for IvyJournal, Jan Maack’s IvyMode dropped its serifs and picked up its own name. Now it’s ready to vogue.

Authors sometimes describe how, once they start writing, the narrative takes on a life of its own and practically finishes itself. Jan Maack has a similar experience with typeface design. Instead of rigidly sticking to his initial concept, he allows the letters to transport him into uncharted territory as they evolve and develop their own distinct identity.

Overview of IvyMode weights
This overview of the IvyMode weight range reveals many of the family’s sophisticated ligatures and elegant design details.

The genesis of IvyMode goes all the way back to IvyStyle Sans. When Maack designed a slab sibling for his neohumanist sans, he wound up with the proportional typewriter face IvyStyle TW. The serif riff on IvyStyle Sans, however, changed so much during its development that it became a discrete design, earning its own name: IvyJournal. Similarly, Maack’s original plan for IvyMode was to design a high-contrast companion for IvyJournal. Proportions and letterforms evolved, and a brand-new typeface emerged like a polished statue out of a block of marble.

Arrows, symbols, and dotted raised small caps in IvyMode
IvyMode features extras like arrows, symbols, and dotted raised small caps.

Maack likes to combine disparate sources of inspiration to create what he calls “crossovers.” He wanted IvyMode to be modern and minimal, and examined how certain typefaces suggest serifs without actually having them: “Thin strokes shouldn’t just end; they need to be resolved.” This conviction led to the subtle flaring of IvyMode’s stroke endings. Maack found further inspiration in typographic stylings from the seventies and Herb Lubalin’s illustrious œuvre. Experimenting with tight-but-not-touching spacing, he came up with a novel solution by vertically cutting off the diagonal strokes in K, R, and X, which compounds IvyMode’s striking look. Lubalin’s influence also manifests itself in a number of the face’s inventive ligatures.

IvyMode text specimen
Even though IvyMode was designed to be a display face, its straightforward letterforms and large x-height allow it to be used for body copy, too.

IvyMode is characterized by its dramatic contrast and moderate angled stress. Flaring on the terminal horizontal and thin vertical strokes, diagonally cut ascenders and descenders, and diamond dots and punctuation give the face a certain crispness. Pointed apexes and vertices on the A, M, N, V, and W, as well as the diagonal strokes extending beyond the left stem in the M and N, add to its sharpness. Maack has even thrown an extended set of ligatures, stylistic alternates, and extra glyphs into the mix for sophisticated typesetting.

Example of capital ligatures
Capital ligatures turn words into instant logos.

This new flared sans lends itself to setting both elegant headlines and invigorating body text. Maack’s family feels especially at ease in editorial projects and blossoms in display use. Use it for high-street brands, high-tech products, high-quality printing, and high fashion.

Like all fonts from The Ivy Foundry, IvyMode is available for print, web, applications, and ePub licensing. Webfonts may be tested free for thirty days; desktop trials are available upon request. To stay current on all things Ivy, subscribe to Type Network News, our occasional email newsletter featuring font releases, foundry happenings, type and design events, and more.