Carpe Typem: Cala and Impara

by jfjudah

The fonts of the moment are Cala and Impara, made by Dieter Hofrichter of Hoftype in Munich, Germany.

Cala Sample 1

Cala sample from MyFonts

Impara Sample

Impara sample

Cala is a serif with soft edges and Impara is a sans with very slight contrast. They were made from the same skeleton, but the sans has a slightly higher x-height to aid readability at small sizes. The lowercase a is pretty much perfect — I can’t think of an improvement to make — and the first stroke at the top of the a has just the right angle to it. I am a sucker for the Venetian style lowercase e because its slanted crossbar gives it some internal space to work with, especially when the heavier weights are taken into consideration. With a slanted crossbar, the eye and the aperture of the e still maintain their clarity. It’s a practical, straightforward solution to a perpetual problem, but using it changes the tone of the entire glyph set since it becomes necessary to also carry that slant through other characters.

Cala sample 3, detail of the lowercase a

Cala, detail of the lowercase a and ligatures

Neither typeface is particularly stunning or different, but they have a draw that makes you feel comfortable. The characters that usually don’t have too much personality (c, i, l, v) are exactly what you would expect: straight lines, reasonable curves, serifs where they should be. As is often the case, the heavier weights of the sans tend to showcase a more definitive personality. Impara’s is an understated sense of funformation — yes, I made that up and yes, you can use it. The concave foot serifs of Cala make their way into the concavity of Impara’s stroke endings, causing a slight dance along the baseline and x-height when combined with the angles of the italic. I just wish the descender of the lowercase f would have made the transition as well.

Impara sample 2, detail of italic personality

Impara, detail of italic personality and terminal angles

Another distinguishing characteristic is the obvious horizontal stress on the zero. Though it feels a bit heavy in larger sizes, it is helpful for telling it from the other round characters.

Cala sample 2, detail of the zero

Cala, detail of the zero

Cala and Impara are the friends that are clear about what movie to see and what restaurant to avoid. They’ve built a report, gained your respect, and don’t have to name-drop just to get you to pay attention. As typefaces, they don’t introduce anything earth-shattering except frictionless reading. Besides, no one wants a friend who breaks all your stuff every time they show up.