With pinched joints and unpredictable chunky serifs, Proto Slab could be mistaken as a novelty, but that denies its potential as a true workhorse. Like its partner, Proto Sans, this face echoes an era when systematic type families were rare. Instead, new styles and weights were cut as needed, each in their own particular design, related only by vague classification. Referencing “Antiques” from American foundries like Barnhart Bros. & Spindler, Keystone, and MacKellar Smiths & Jordan, Proto Slab wrangles the traditional pre-family jumble into a more cohesive set of fonts, yet the variation between its four weights is still apparent. As the type gains weight serifs fall away (A, C, R, a, w), widths change (J, S), and shapes morph (r, l, t) producing a mix of personalities, each distinct but all sprouting from the same slabby tree. A set of stylistic alternates invites users to manipulate this relationship between fonts, to either normalize or emphasize their differences. Proto Slab, a curious but capable companion to Proto Sans.
Design: Jean-Baptiste Levée. Team: Donald Choque, Yoann Minet, Adrien Tétar, Quentin Schmerber.