With these pairings, I generally try to stay away from safe design outcomes. I’m more interested in what I don’t know than what I do, and looking through and combing pieces that are a sure fit just isn’t as satisfying as following through on a ‘what if?’ and making the relationship work. When I started the Great Pairs series, I was careful to name the relationship I created: Disparate Voices, Unison, Youthful, Unsettling. I’m now much less eager to do so, given the great range each is capable of spanning. But if I were to highlight one thing going on with this pair, it would be the nice arresting quality Svend Smital’s FF Super Grotesk has over the rich even-colored surface of Kent Lew’s Whitman.
Whitman, (and its display variants shown above, far right column) goes after the warmth and charm of William Addison Dwiggins’s New Caledonia, with introduction of notable improvements, quieting some and playing up certain other quirks you might also see in say, Eric Gill’s Joanna. FF Super Grotesk, with its low x-height, tall dark caps, and slightly unpolished appeal, seems to bring out the best of Whitman’s idiosyncrasies. Note above the alternate a and g in FF Super Grotesk, accessible through OpenType Stylistic Sets.
Don’t be alarmed. Though rugged, FF Super Grotesk is capable of subtlety in its lighter weights, though it’s true; It’s usually outspoken. Below, Whitman Display calms its sans partner in its role as subheading.
That’s all. Catch Great Pairs here each Wednesday.