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Typeface Fabrica

Sans Serif / 209 Glyphs / OTF Format (Download Here)
Designed by Alvin Kwan


Fabrica was my graduation project during the last semester at Emily Carr University in 2011. During this time, mobile interfaces and smart phones had just gained tremendous popularity. Despite the fact that Helvetica was not designed intentionally for small screens, it was still the default typeface on the iPhone and iPad. Typographers and graphic designers were starting to discuss this design problem. Supervised by my teachers Ross Milne and Casey Hrynkow, I explored this design problem as the premise to my graduation project.



Within the short four month semester, I had to create an effective schedule including research, typeface design, specimen design and exhibition design. During the research phase, I focused on understanding and dissecting typographic characteristics for optimal legibility. I was also doing research on wayfinding typefaces and their characteristics such as FS Millbank by Fontsmith and Wayfinding Sans Pro by Ralf Herrmann. Through my research findings, I was able to create a precise parameter on how to design a highly legible typeface for small screens.


Fabrica Glyph Set

The final set of glyph includes 209 characters from basic characters, accented characters, numeral sets, currency and math operators to punctuation and symbols.


Distinctive forms, open internal shapes and tall x-heights were some attributes for Fabrica. Due to the limitation of pixels on smaller screens, serifs would not be ideal for this application. The final details of Fabrica were drawn from the more systematic constructed Neo-Grotesques, giving it a neutral tone of voice. Above all, Fabrica’s beauty is found in its functionality.


Click here to download Fabrica regular font


Fabrica Design Process

Immitating the grided pixel structure, characters were first drawn on graph paper.


Fabrica Design Process

The word ‘hamburgefonstiv’ was used as the starting set of letters to define the characteristics of the typeface. Once this set was refined and designed, other characters could be created easily. For example, the letter ‘b’ can be transitioned into letters ‘d’, ‘p’ and ‘q’.

Faculty-Fabrica-Typeface-Design-Details-2w Faculty-Fabrica-Typeface-Design-Details-1w

Fabrica Characters Details

A look at the design of the final characters.


Fabrica Display: Paragraph

Some of the last details to review and adjust were character flow and kerning.


Fabrica Display: Phrase

A display of Fabrica in short phrase ‘but does it float’—inspired by the website butdoesitfloat.com.


Fabrica Typeface Specimen

The typeface specimen consisted of a CD with the Fabrica OTF download file, a specimen book and a folder.


Fabrica Typeface Specimen

Interior of the typeface specimen folder.


Fabrica Typeface Specimen

A spread design showcasing the distinguishable characteristics between letters “I”, “i”, “l” and “1”.


Fabrica Typeface Specimen

A spread design showcasing the basic character set and some punctuation and currency symbols.


Fabrica Typeface Specimen

A spread design showcasing the characters “K”, “k” and “L” “l” in detail.