If you haven’t heard of the sans serif grotesk font Akkurat, you have been living under a rock. No worries though I’m here to fill you in. Created by Swiss designer Laurenz Brunner, I first heard about the font in 2007 (about 3 years after its original release) when my university lecturer at the time was urging us to stop spending our money on partying and rather spend our money on good quality fonts. He strongly believed that good fonts made the design, and you simply couldn’t get a decent font for free. Well, he wasn’t wrong.
His favourite at the time was Akkurat and it quickly became my favourite too. It’s been my go to font ever since and I’d go so far as to call it the Helvetica killer, but it’s often referred to as the new old Helvetica. I’m guessing that’s the reason behind the controversy upon its release, as a lot of designers felt it was a re-working of minor-themes; too similar to the font Franklin Gothic, not really as universal as then beloved Helvetica. For me it was love at first sight. I think Akkurat was a little before its time and as Brunner says himself, “It actually took several weeks for the first license to leave the shop, and it wasn’t until two or three years later that designers started becoming more interested in an ‘objective’ typographic style, reanimating a lot of classic (Swiss) design values. Akkurat became something of a mascot for this movement.”
Akkurat was published by Lineto and was one of Lineto’s first serious text families, as part of their website relaunch. It is perhaps one of their largest successes to date. Now, over 10 years later, it can be seen in Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth, on Prada’s website, and a forthcoming version of the font for Nike Basketball.
The typeface is a solid and reliable text font with remarkable legibility, Lineto states ‘the font is designed to combine the qualities of a classic san serif craft with appropriate contemporary freshness”. And I have to agree with Lineto’s statement. To me, it gives a refreshing look to the much seen and overly used (in my opinion) Helvetica or even Swiss based Univers. It’s a font that doesn’t get enough credit or attention. Yes it’s nothing groundbreaking, but the simplicity of the characters are beautiful and the fact that it’s so universal might be why 11 years later when Apple launched its own font San Francisco, the similarities were uncanny! The name Akkurat translates to Accurate in English or Just in Norwegian. A fitting name for a font so universal but with personality.