Egitto – From Italy to France, with just a tip of the hat to Ancient Egypt

A slab serif for display work, Egitto is an ideal choice for designs requiring sturdy type. Shipping either as a three-axis Variable Font or as a large family of single styles, its stable letterforms are low in contrast. They feature heavy serifs that give texts a solid look. Slab serifs were born to help printers advertise products. Today, they are still are a favourite choice in Corporate Design.
‘Egitto’ is Italian for Egypt. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, typographers referred to slab serif typefaces as ‘Egyptienne’ designs, despite this kind of letter having no direct connection to ancient hieroglyphs or 19th-century Egyptian culture. Instead, this typographic genre first became popular during a pan-European wave of interest in Ancient Egypt. This inspired waves of fashion sometimes described as ‘Egyptomania’ or the ‘Egyptian Revival’.
In France, slab serif typefaces are often classified as being mécane, or mechanistic, because of their mechanical construction. That is probably nowhere more visible than in slab serif vernacular signage. We call our typeface Egitto because this name helps transport the Italian flavour of the design. Its most direct point of inspiration is a kind of vernacular signage familiar all over Italy, including letters that are embossed from metal plates or made out of ceramic elements, etc. Egitto does not seem to have any calligraphic origins at all. Instead, the design is based on a construction system making use of a series of modular parts. That sets it apart the most from most serif typefaces. While Egitto looks like it might have been made by machines, its forms were carefully crafted by hand.
The best way to use Egitto is to install its single Variable Font file. However, the typeface is also available as a big collection of traditional font files. With those, users can switch between seven different pre-defined widths, ranging from Condensed to Super Wide. Each width has five pre-defined weights on offer, all with italic companions.
Axes for weight, width, and slant give the Egitto Variable Font a near-infinite number of variations. The Slant axis, in particular, is an excellent feature. It allows users to set the exact degree of slope that their ‘italic’ type should have. Text set in Egitto exhibits a lovely interplay between the round elements and the heavy slab serifs. The design for the fonts’ ‘j’ and ‘t’ letterforms are so mechanistic that they look like Modernist letter-forming experiments.
Egitto is a slab serif whose design features all the sturdiness the genre can carry. It is a good option for headlines and short texts. Egitto also shines in branding: its large variety of styles can allow for the family to be used in Corporate Design. The middle of the design space’s range can suit longer text-settings, too.

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Jérémie Hornus, Solenn Bordeau
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