30 august 2022 — publications
Plakato stencil set

In the year 2022, printed type specimens are no longer a matter of course. But print has other specific qualities that a digital type specimen cannot have, and besides, it brings us great pleasure to make it. Earlier this year we made the Manicule Specimen, a printed publication which contains an overview of various fonts from our catalogue. A printed type specimen of the Plakato typeface family, however, requires a specific approach, one that is quite obvious. There is only one way to present a stencil typeface properly: with a stencil set.

Stencils are a fantastic way of producing visuals. With Plakato you can print out your text, and just cut it out of paper, cardboard, or any other material you prefer. Get your spray can, paint, brushes or any other tool you prefer. We always prefer spray cans because they are the fastest way to write a text with a stencil. Last week, for example, we hand-sprayed all the posters for the BuitenBios, the open-air cinema on the roof terrace of our Amsterdam studio, in Plakato style. Those posters used a custom-made stencil, but sometimes you just want to put your own message on something quickly. Prefabricated stencil letters are perfect for that.

That is why we are pleased to present the Plakato Stencil Set today. It is a physical type specimen and utensil in one. This stencil set, consisting of 40 separate stencils (A-Z 0-9 & ? ! ↑), comes in a customized box and is accompanied by a dedicated booklet in Plakato style. The booklet has a simple message: get your hands dirty and don’t let this stencil set become your typographic Japanese Senseo machine. The pamphlet stitched booklet, which is RISO printed, and the Plakato stencils are packed together in a sturdy box, and now available for a bargain. Spread your message in style with the Plakato stencil set!

25 august 2022 — font update
PostScript Type 1 fonts end of support

There is still a small chance that you’re working with PostScript Type 1 versions if you have been working with our fonts for over a decade. We started distributing our desktop fonts in the more recent OpenType format long ago, and our library upgrade in 2013 turned all our fonts in the same technical condition. Since then all our desktop fonts come as OpenType fonts. More details were back then described in Upgrade available & Notes about the library upgrade.

Those good old PostScript Type 1 fonts you might have bought from us 20 years ago, still work today. However, as of January 2023 Adobe is no longer supporting PostScript Type 1 fonts in their applications. So today is a good moment to check if the Underware fonts you are working with are already in the .otf (OpenType) format. If not, you can upgrade them to the most recent version for free in your account.

In case you have any questions about this, or trouble with upgrading, just contact us.

24 august 2022 — walhalla
BuitenBios 2022

Stencils are still one of our favourite techniques, as they provide a quick-and-dirty way to produce visuals. Next to that, they also guarantee a nice balance between full control and manual irregularity. For this year’s BuitenBios edition, the one and only open-air cinema on the rooftop of our Amsterdam studio building, we created all posters by hand (😅) with a stencil.


15 july 2022 — out now
Plakato Moiré

New possibilities with COLRv1
Just as with Plakato One Two, which we published earlier this week, this version of a coloured Plakato font shows again new typographic possibilities. Plakato Moiré takes advantage of the option to include transparency within a font. Combined with variable paint tables, this allows for eye shocking letters.

Moiré effect
Moiré effects have caused printers and photographers many headaches. The effect of this interference pattern is caused by identical patterns which are slightly displaced. For example if one patterns is a tiny bit rotated. But instead of letting this cause us headaches, designers can also take this moiré effect as a starting point for their design. For example the Japanese artist Takahiro Kurashima published a couple of splendid books in recent years which take advantage of the moiré effect.

Plakato Moiré
We were curious to see what would happen if the moiré patterns would appear inside a letter. Plakato Moire introduces this method in the digital realm of variable OpenType fonts. By carefully limiting the variability of the font to the essential parameters of moiré — color, grid size, and layer rotation — Plakato Moire wants to provide maximum possibilities with a minimal set of parameters. All dynamic, all live within your browser. You can experience it yourself by influencing the parameters as you want.

▶ Please meet Plakato Moiré.



06 july 2022 — out now
Plakato One Two

New possibilities with COLRv1
There are more and more possibilities with letters, also because technical possibilities have heavily improved in the past decade. You might have seen Plakato Color which was released half a year ago. That font family takes advantage of the wonderful new possibilities that the COLRv1 font format offers. However, that font family didn’t take advantage of the variable Paint table. This table allows you to change the colors, and the position of the colors, within (!) a letter.

Variable Paint table
We have now applied variable Paint tables in Plakato One Two. A close comparison with the old Plakato Color will reveal a big difference. Now you can not only change the colors, but also change the position of the color stops (the place where a certain color is located).

Plakato One Two
See it live! Instead of all this bla-bla, why not experience these new options yourself with the Plakato One Two demo? Make your own color! The demo allows you to apply your own colors to the color font and the background. But you can also play with the variable Paint table and experience it yourself. The future is bright colorful!

▶ Please meet Plakato One Two.

(visit the demo with a browser that supports COLRv1, like Chrome or Edge)

Thank you: We would like to thank you Peter Constable, Behdad Esfahbod, Laurence Penney, Dominik Röttsches, Adam Twardoch and Ben Wagner for their great support to make Plakato One Two possible.

03 july 2022 — presentations
Inside the letter lecture

Instead of presenting our recent findings and points of views in a lecture, we’ve used the opportunity of giving a lecture to develop new findings and points of views in recent years. A satisfactory turnaround in approach. Contemporary technological developments not only affect the design process (not only of letters, but of any design process), but also have an impact on how letters are used, and what a letter is. A lecture is a good moment to reflect on this, by developing new thoughts, making new demos, sketching new ideas, or making new designs.

Coming Thursday 7 July 2022 we’ll give a lecture at the International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication in Thessaloniki, Greece. This time we’re gonna explore what’s inside the letter.

12 may 2022 — walhalla
Read Naked raffle

This week it has been 20 years since the typeface Sauna was released with the Secret Sauna Party in Berlin. It was the first opportunity to test the book Read Naked inside a hot sauna, because some parts of the book only become visible at 80° Celsius or higher. We made this publication together with Dutch designer Piet Schreuders, and the production – printing on Neobond paper (the Rolls Royce of papers), binding without using glue – guaranteed the publication would survive a serious sauna visit. Drying instructions to get the book back into the bookshelf are included on page 1.


16 march 2022 — out now
Homo Scriptus

Homo Scriptus, collection Printemps de la Typographie 2022

Homo Scriptus
Grammatographic haute couture available as NFT

On Thursday the 10th of March, our lecture ‘Homo Scriptus’ at the Printemps de la Typographie conference in Paris took place at the end of the Paris fashion week. This lecture was the final part of our Parisian Pen Triptych and ended with a fashion show of Homo Scriptus: Underware’s new label for grammatographic haute couture.


Lecture Homo Scriptus at Printemps de la Typographie 2022, Paris

Grammatographic haute couture
By adding an algorithmic layer on top of OpenType COLRv1 fonts, Homo Scriptus delivers, on the one hand, a typographic system that can be used and applied as any other font. But at the same moment each letter comes with its own dynamics and texture. For this first collection of Homo Scriptus, Printemps de la Typographie 2022, Underware worked closely with the Dutch fashion designer and artist Tessa Bekker. This collaboration led to 33 unique models, which are based on the general subject write, copy, play. All models are build upon the recently published typeface Plakato and are sold as unique NFTs on OpenSea.

Homo Scriptus as NFT
Based upon our experience with other new technological developments in the past, like variable fonts and color fonts, we believe in the benefit of staying curious. And while NFTs have led to many controversial opinions, it is interesting that most of them reflect on the usage of NFTs by some people (the financial aspect) and the shortcoming of the current technological implementation (the energy aspect). But considering that we have been using digital communication like PDFs and email already for many years – also because of ecological reasons – it seems somehow logical that a digital setup will take at the end fewer resources than one based on true products and deliveries. Therefore we decided to keep Homo Scriptus in the digital realm.

At the same time, it is interesting to look at the core principles of NFT, like decentralised distribution and smart contracts, and how they can be used to create a different relation between the maker and the owner. By distributing Homo Scriptus as NFT on OpenSea, we can guarantee on the one hand that the whole collection will always stay visible for everybody in the future, but at the same time create a possibility to engage for everybody who is interested in getting involved with us in this adventure. In the end, the future of NFT will be created just like the internet: it will become what we make out of it.

Homo Scriptus Haute Couture, Printemps de la Typographie 2022 Collection, Model PT2022-M1, courtesy Kenny Schachter, USA

OpenSea & digital haute couture
Each model of Homo Scriptus is for sale for €33 on OpenSea. Purchasing a model makes you the official owner of this model. If you have never used OpenSea before and do not have a digital wallet, we recommend using MetaMask. Once you have created an account, you can add Ethers (the cryptocurrency) with your credit card and you are ready to go.

In the recent months, more and more fashion brands added a virtual companion to their physical collection, allowing their customer to wear Haute Couture in the virtual space. And while it is also (theoretical) possible to wear Homo Scriptus in the purely virtual space, it is created with he idea to connect the virtual with the physical. Therefore each model is a pre-generated counting loop, which you can for example install on a watch. (If you are the owner of an NFT and are interested in wearing your model on an AppleWatch, please get in contact with us. We are happy to help you out.)

Explore the NFT collection on OpenSea.

04 march 2022 — presentations
Homo Scriptus lecture (Pen Triptych III)

Thursday 10 March 2022 we’ll give a lecture at the Printemps de la Typographie, organised by l’école Estienne in Paris. Those who can remember previous editions, that’s before the pandemic, will remember we gave a lecture a the last 2 editions of this one day seminar. As usual we only understand what we’re doing while we’re doing it, and we came to the conclusion that we’ve actually been telling one long story at the Printemps de la Typographie, started in 2019, continued in 2020, and we’re gonna finish that story in 2022 with the lecture ‘Homo Scriptus’. Therefore it would be a pleasure to see you coming Thursday in Paris at the final episode of our Pen Triptych. Other lectures by Emmanuël Souchier, Charles Gautier, Gabriele Cepulyte, Jean Alessandrini and Olivier Nineuil, Sophie Cure, Esther Szac & André Baldinger.

Tickets and more info here.

19 january 2022 — publications
New publication: Manicule specimen

It’s been a well-kept secret, but we often design specific 👉 manicules to fit the style of a typeface and include those in our fonts. Those pointing hands are the subject of a small publication.

This month we hooked up with publishing house De Buitenkant, drukkerij Jan de Jong & zetterij Chang Chi Lan-Ying, for a Copper Monday print (a Dutch printing tradition) and made a Manicule specimen (Dutch title is ‘Handjesproef’ 😘).

This illustrated essay on the manicule, which briefly tells its transition from the margins of 12th century books up to the vaults of contemporary typefaces, brings our love for carefully designed manicules in the open. This publication is therefore not a type specimen, but rather a manicule specimen, in which each manicule is presented in combination with the typeface to which it belongs.

This publication is not for sale, but if you want to obtain a copy, join our raffle.

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