ORA is a new generation electric car and a brand of the Chinese GWM automotive enterprise. As part of the ORA brand redesign headed by brand agency Jung von Matt/Brand Identity, Character Type designed the versatile ORA funky typeface family.


Character Type: Excellence in branded type design

Henning Skibbe’s infatuation with type started in his youth with comic and graffiti art; since then, he’s gone on to design some of the best brand typefaces and a library of quality retail fonts. His foundry—Character Type—joins Type Network with six of his most popular.

I’m excited about having Character Type join Type Network. I'm a big fan of your fonts, your website, and how you present your custom work. There’s one photo in particular—the one with the UNIMATIC watch being worn by the Ferrari driver—that encapsulates your design excellence.

Yeah, that’s one of those cool aspects of working with clients like UNIMATIC. Custom work can be challenging, you know? Clients need the typefaces early on while their branding is still in the oven, so to speak. Then there's this waiting game until everything is implemented, and initially, things might not look as polished because everyone's still adjusting. But with UNIMATIC, it’s just seamless. You grab their image, slap it on your site, and it's good to go—no need for any extra polish.

That’s fantastic, indeed very rare. Can you recall a time or moment when you first noticed that type and lettering were appealing to you?

Oh, for that, I’d need to rewind quite a bit. It probably started back in my youth, around '95 or '96, with graffiti. It wasn't the gang culture aspect that drew me in; it was the artistic side of it. That fascination with visual art started even earlier, though. I was hooked on comics as a kid, especially this East German comic called Mosaik—ever heard of it? Probably not, but it's excellent, with high-quality drawings and storytelling. I remember running to the corner store with the money my mom gave me, just to get the latest issue. So yeah, it goes way back. And then, during my university years studying graphic design, I discovered there was an entire profession behind creating letters. Taking courses from Lucas de Groot was a real eye-opener. I hadn’t realized that people actually crafted the letters we type.

You started Character Type, your foundry, relatively recently, about five years ago; what were you doing in the interim years from graphic design school through to 2018?

By the time I graduated in 2007, I was starting a family and needed something stable, so I veered into graphic design. I spent a couple of years at a branding studio before starting a design studio with a former partner. That went well until it didn’t, and by the end of 2018, after a decade in graphic and branding design, I decided to dive headfirst into type design with Character Type.


UNIMATIC is a young, Milan-based maker of minimalist sport watches. All UNIMATIC timepieces are produced in highly limited runs with a keen eye to combining value with performance and aesthetics. To add to the latter Character Type created a set of custom numerals built into a variable font.

Character Type

Character Type creates unique typefaces – custom or retail – to elevate small and international brands.

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Haptic Script, a companion and extension of the Haptic sans-serif family.

Since 2018, you’ve worked with some notable clients like Lamborghini and Süddeutsche Zeitung. How do these experiences shape your retail typefaces, such as NewsSerif and NewsSans?

Those years weren’t just about graphic design; they were also a deep dive into typography, especially in the context of editorial design. This background is invaluable. It's not just about creating pretty letters; it’s about understanding the needs of the users, the strategic considerations behind a brand, and how type can play a role in that. So when I started Character Type, I naturally leaned on that experience. You can see that with my recent work for Lamborghini, for whom I just designed a new brand typeface, Lambotype. With NewsSerif and NewsSans, I wanted to create something that drew from my newspaper design background, reflecting the practical, strategic aspects of type that I had come to appreciate.

Out of your custom projects, which ones stand out or best demonstrate your capabilities?

The Süddeutsche Zeitung project is definitely a standout because it was so comprehensive and ongoing, which allowed for a depth of engagement you don’t always get. Lambotype for Lamborghini epitomizes my approach—subtle, brand-aligned details within the typeface, not loud or ostentatious, but thoughtful and nuanced. These projects, where the typeface can deeply reflect the brand’s identity and ethos, are the ones that excite me the most and showcase what I aim to achieve with my work.

otto_play_typeface_032 (1)

OTTO is Germanys online retail giant. As part of the OTTO brand redesign headed by brand agency Mutabor, Character Type designed the multifarious OTTO Play typeface.


As part of the redesign of the Süddeutsche Zeitung – one of Germanys largest daily newspapers – a custom SZ typeface system was developed. Each of the 57 styles, from Sans-Serif, Sans-Condensed, Serif to Serif-Condensed, contains more than 700 glyphs.


What’s your dream or ideal custom project?

I’m really drawn to projects that go beyond the Latin script, incorporating an international scope. It’s not just the complexity of design that interests me, but the strategic and research elements involved in accommodating diverse languages and cultures. For instance, the project for Vorwerk, while it might look like another geometric sans, was deeply fascinating due to its extensive glyph set and the challenges of making it accessible to a large audience. My ideal project would be with an international brand that communicates across various markets, bringing that added layer of complexity and richness to the design process.

Do you prefer doing custom work for corporate clients or seeing one of your retail faces used in unexpected ways?

Honestly, I get a kick out of both. There’s something truly gratifying about seeing a typeface I’ve designed being used out in the world, whether it's a custom project for a corporate client or a retail font applied in creative ways I hadn't anticipated. The joy comes from the realization that something I’ve created is helping someone communicate their message more effectively or adding an aesthetic dimension to their project. It’s not so much about the context in which the typeface is used, but the fact that it's being used well and serving its purpose.


Character Type created a geometric typeface family with an extensive glyph set (1.521 glyphs) covering 311 languages (Latin, Cyrillic and Greek) for Vorwerk, a German appliance company. Designed with a keen eye towards text economy the geometric Vorwerk typefaces turned out to be nearly as space saving as Roboto Sans.

lamborghini-3 (Large)

Inspired by Lamborghini’s rich heritage and the “Direzione Cor Tauri – Another step forward” transformation process, the Lambotype typefaces embody the extraordinary and the unconventional. Designed by Character Type as part of the Lamborghini brand redesign led by Strichpunkt, this extensive typeface family, ranges from Normal to Ultracompressed and Light to Black.

Can you share the stories behind the typefaces you’re bringing to Type Network?

Sure, NewsSerif and NewsSans were foundational projects for me as I transitioned into running Character Type. NewsSans was the first typeface I embarked on, intending it for retail, drawing from my extensive experience in newspaper design. NewsSerif followed as a natural extension, creating a serif counterpart to NewsSans. Tragic Grotesk is another interesting one—it originated from a custom project but was later extended for a broader audience. I added new weights, icons, and expanded the glyph set. It’s an example of how my custom work can evolve into something more universal. Then there are Early Sans and Late Serif, born from a custom project for a German pharmacy publisher, blending early grotesque and neogrotesque influences for a modern yet timeless feel. These stories encapsulate my journey from custom to retail, showcasing how one realm can inform and enrich the other.


“It’s not just about creating pretty letters; it’s about understanding the needs of the users.”

―Henning Skibbe

What does it mean for you to have Character Type joining Type Network?

Joining Type Network is a significant milestone for me and Character Type. It’s not just about reaching a broader audience or tapping into the American market; it's about being part of a community that values type design as a craft. It's heartening to be part of a network that appreciates the nuances of independent type design and offers a collaborative relationship. Beyond that, I'm excited about the opportunities for learning and growth that come with being among such esteemed company. The collective expertise within TN make it an ideal place for Character Type to thrive and evolve.

Thank you for your time, and welcome to Type Network!

Thank you, Lucas. It was a pleasure. Glad to be here!

NewsSerif, Haptic Script, Haptic Pro, Tragic Grotesk, Early Sans, and Late Serif can be licensed for print, web, mobile apps, and ePubs. Webfonts may be tested for thirty days, and desktop trials are available upon request. Have a licensing question? Check out our support page or get in touch.