As the final echoes of Bauhaus and the avant-garde movements were sounding, Europe witnessed the emergence of the so-called New Typography, initiated by Jan Tschichold with the publication of his 1928 book of the same name. Adopting a san-serif typeface, rational design, asymmetrical composition and formal construction based on geometry were put forward as the emblems of modernity.

Meanwhile, in Spain, Esteban Trochut, who ran a prestigious printing house in Barcelona, and his son Joan published ADAM (Documentary Archive of Modern Art) in Spanish and French. The aim of this publication was to present typography as a creative element for printers. Its pages featured gorgeous compositions made up solely and exclusively of typographic elements, intended to provide a source of inspiration for printing house workers.

After a necessary hiatus due to the Civil War, they took up the task again with a new series of publications, this time titled NOVADAM. The second issue, published in 1942, featured the Super Veloz typeface, a typographic system devised by Joan Trochut. It was made up of three collections of modules plus another three 72- and 36-point supplements. They provided an almost infinite number of possible combinations, making it possible to create not only letters, but also drawings and illustrations.

Although it is a construction system based on movable type and follows a modular logic, the results obtained using Super Veloz do not have a geometric appearance, due to the calligraphic elements used. At the time, it was an extremely novel typeface, a breath of fresh air, whose great versatility represented a break with the excessive monotony and rigidity prevailing in Spanish and European typography at the time.

Its forerunner was Figuras Geométricas, a modular typeface inspired by Paul Renner’s Futura Schmuck, which was made up of basic shapes – circle, triangle and square – and their respective subdivisions. Fundición Tipográfica José Iranzo, a type foundry, produced the typeface in the 1930s, with Esteban Trochut providing technical advice. Joan Trochut would later design the Bisonte typeface for the same foundry, as well as Juventud for Richard Gans.

(To be continued)

By Roberto Gamonal Arroyo