Custom Typeface for documenta fifteen

A strong font for documenta fifteen.

Stan Hema
January 5, 2022

Font as a statement for processuality? Why not! Our custom typeface for documenta fifteen shows how it works. André van Rueth helped to design it in collaboration with Studio4002 and Fabian Maier-Bode.

The basic idea?
Exchange, resource sharing and collective work are the central themes of documenta fifteen. We have expressed this dynamic in the font design.

The type designers?
A creative collective, to suit the basic idea of documenta fifteen: we worked with the Indonesian design studio Studio 4oo2 and our former colleague Fabian Maier-Bode. We know Studio 4oo2 from the development of the documenta design.

The font character?
It was important to us to use different letters that create a dynamic typeface. The basis is formed by illustrations from Studio 4oo2: lines that work with the principle of infinity and continuity. They gave rise to the idea of a dynamic hybrid that combines handwriting and printed type. Fabian Maier-Bode combined the collective handwriting of Studio 4oo2 with a pre-industrial-style woodcut sans serif. It has a warm, engraved-wood feel, less polished than many sans-serif fonts. Through alternative glyphs, the font becomes dynamic and expresses the process and polyphony. MBI DCMNT-15 is complemented by Söhne Mono and the expressive Editorial New from Pangram Pangram Foundry, which show the interplay of the informal and the institutional. The combination of the three fonts creates a very lively typeface. We are looking to make a statement by working with bulky typography, justified typesetting and dynamic orientation.

Everyday use of the font?
Readability or accessibility and identity sometimes sit on opposite ends of the scale. The more identity a font has, the less accessible it can be. And, of course, vice versa. We have opted for a strong identity, but we also offer a simple version of the design on the documenta website, among other places, which increases reading comfort. We want to cater to the widest possible audience, and even when selecting the glyphs we took readability and distinguishability into account. Nevertheless, the font retains the right to demonstrate its full power. And it ‘works’. Again and again, new designs are created and we notice that the font works and comes alive. It grows, is no longer only theoretical, and that is nice to see.

Contact person

André van Rueth


KI Art
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documenta fifteen
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