Christine Gertsch, what are variable fonts?
Variable fonts are digital typefaces that can morph into several different forms. They set new standards in design and for reading experience. Previously, each font style, such as normal, bold and italic, required a separate file. The latest standard for digital fonts enables not only combining these styles in a single file, but also using any intermediate value. This opens up new possibilities for typographic design and for dynamic typesetting in general.The most common styles in variable fonts define a font’s width or weight. However, other variations are also possible. Properties such as the slant, the contrast in line width or even the playfulness of a typeface’s characters can be adjusted independently and each to a varying degree. For instance, this enables designers to animate type without distortion on moving posters and websites.But the option to animate is only one added value of variable fonts. Today, most people read on screen: on a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop. All of these devices have a variety of sensors such as cameras, microphones or proximity sensors. In connection with these sensors, variable fonts have great potential: when type reacts to their environment, such as screen size, ambient light, reading distance or audio input, not only does this open up new ways of setting the typographic stage, it also allows more precise adjustments to enhance the readability of a text – if necessary for each user individually.