Cooper Union Typography

All about Typography, well, mostly about Typography.

Aldo Novarese

Aldo Novarese is someone I meant to post about some time ago, as his incredibly prolific type-design career spanned over 50 years (into the 1990’s) and produced over 70 typefaces (over 200 if we count the various weights & styles). His typefaces helped shape the visual landscape of the 1950s and beyond, with such classic faces as Eurostile, Stop, and ITC Novarese. The Microgramma/Eurostile typeface has become synonymous with Mid-Century Modernism. Much like his contemporary Roger Excoffon (in charge of the Fonderie Olive type foundry) Novarese led the prominent Italian foundry Nebiolo and left a similar mark on the world of typography.

Aldo Novarese was born on June 29, 1920 in Pontestura, a small town in the Piedmont region of Italy. The family later relocated to the nearby Turin, where Novarese’s father worked as a customs agent, and it was there in 1930 that Novarese began his studies at the Sculoa Artieri Stampatori (School of Printing Crafts), where he studied woodcut and copper engraving, and lithography. Following this he spent three years at a specialist typography school, the Scuola Tipografica e di Arti Affini “Giuseppe Vigliardi-Paravia”, under the guidance of Alessandro Butti. At sixteen he joined the Nebilolo foundry in Turin as a draftsman. The Turinese Nebiolo had been the main Italian font foundry and printing machine factory since the fourteenth century. The Studio Artistico of the Nebiolo Foundry was established in 1933 and was run by Butti from 1936 to 1952, when Novarese took over as director.

In 1939 Novarese was imprisoned for protesting against the war, but was saved from hard labour because of a medal he had won in 1938 at the Ludo Juveniles art competition. He returned to Nebiolo at the end of the war, becoming art director in 1952, and went on to be awarded a gold medal at the Milan trade fair. In 1956 Novarese published a typeface classification (see below) which received much praise from professional associations in Italy and consolidated his position as director at Nebiolo.

He left the Nebiolo foundry in 1975 to begin freelance work as a typeface designer, and it is this later work that sealed Novarese’s international reputation. He continued to work up until his death in 1995, with his final typeface, Agfa Nadianne, being completed just before his death.

Novarese’s business card with sketches of letterforms (see reference #11 below).

Fluidum, 1951

Microgramma, 1952
(designed by Aldo Novarese and Alessandro Butti & later expanded and redesigned in 1962 as Eurostile)

Egizio, 1956–58

Jonathan Hoefler writes: “A few enterprising designers tried their hands at synthesizing a plausible Clarendon Italic, but none was an unqualified success. Above, one of the most awkward candidates, the Egizio Corsiva Nero (1958) uncharacteristically produced by the otherwise capable Nebiolo foundry, under the direction of the legendary Aldo Novarese. Its admixture of cursive and static forms creates an odd chimera, unwieldy at small sizes, and perplexing at large ones.”

Recta, 1958–59

Estro, 1961 & Ritmo, 1955

Forma, 1966

Type Classification System


Information and Image Sources / References / Further Reading:

  1. Nebiolo on CreativePro
  2. (partially works)
  3. Information on Aldo from Linotype
  4. Information at identifont
  5. Mitja Miklavčič’s article about Eurostile/Microgramma
  6. Mitja Miklavčič’s article about Forma
  7. Images of the Nebiolo factory and catalogues
  8. List of Novarese’s typefaces
  9. Wikipedia
  10. Tipografos
  11. Novarese’s business card
  12. Recta specimen at Grain Edit
  13. Paul Shaw’s article on Eurostile Next
  14. Digitally available fonts by Novaresse
  15. H&FJ’s Sentinel
  16. Nebiolo Type Specimen
  17. Emigre #26
  18. Novarese’s type classification system
  19. Recta and Forma on Flickr
  20. Carateri Nebiolo set on Flickr
  21. Another Carateri Nebiolo set from Peter Bruhn on Flickr
  22. A physical description of the Nebiolo type catalogue
  23. Estro
  24. Fluidium on Linotype

Filed under: Designers, People, Reference, Typefaces, Typography

3 Responses

  1. Béla Frank says:

    Excellent, liked this a lot!

  2. Thomas Gravemaker says:

    Thank you for this. I recently bought brand new Eurostile and Microgramma in metal from 6 to 36 pt., that had been sitting at a printer for 40 years, and was trying to find out a bit more about Novarese.

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