Meno comes of age: 7-style family matures into a typographic powerhouse
Originally released as a modest yet elegant workhorse serif face in 1994, Richard Lipton’s Meno expands into a sprawling, glamorous type system in three optical sizes.
When Richard Lipton introduced Meno to the world over twenty years ago, fonts were much simpler. The PostScript Type 1 font format was straightforward and only allowed for a limited character set. Meno (pronounced meeno, although Lipton never corrects anyone who says men-o) originally featured seven styles in a single width: Regular, Bold, and Black in roman and italic, along with Titling Small Caps. Lipton designed Meno as a versatile text/display hybrid, sturdy enough for body copy yet refined in larger settings. For this expansion, Lipton revisited his early design, adapting it for high-end contemporary typography. The family now offers a total of seventy-eight feature-rich OpenType fonts with extensive character sets. Meno is available in three optical sizes: Text, Display, and Banner. The Display and Banner cuts add Condensed and Extra Condensed widths into the mix. Meno’s design was inspired by roman types from the famous French Renaissance type designer and punchcutter Robert Granjon. Lipton interpreted the classic letterforms with flair to create a timeless yet decidedly modern typeface. Because the specimens Lipton used as a model didn’t show italics, this gave him license to invent his own. His background as a professional calligrapher is evident in Meno’s lyrical shapes; flowing curves alternate with confident corners and strong gestural strokes. Lipton’s personal hand lends a uniquely appropriate and distinctive atmosphere throughout the entire series. The three optical sizes—Text, Display, and Banner—elevate Meno from an all-purpose hybrid to a typographic powerhouse for editorial use (and beyond). Meno Text does what a great text face needs to do—it is self-effacing and transparent, guaranteeing a smooth, pleasant reading experience. Higher contrast and slightly tighter letter fit make the Display cut an excellent choice for smart, elegant titles and headlines as well as shorter bursts of text in sizes 14 to 72 pt. The Banner optical, with its very fine features, takes over at the largest sizes, where Meno Display starts to look a little too heavy. Meno’s expressive italics beautifully complement the romans, and, when used as standalone fonts with the swash variants, invite comparison to graceful calligraphy. Meno Display and Banner come in six weights with matching italics, ranging from a delicate Light to an authoritative Black. These two optical sizes are also available in Condensed and Extra Condensed widths. This variety provides a multitude of options for fitting headlines, turning the new Meno into a flexible titling system ideal for newspapers, magazines, and other publications based on modular grids. The attention to detail in Meno is a testament to Lipton’s dedication as a typeface designer. The fonts offer small caps and a full complement of superscript lowercase, alternate shapes for key lowercase characters, a number of alternate capitals featuring subtle calligraphic touches, an extended ligature set, and all the necessary styles of numerals. The Banner and Display versions also include capital ligatures. Additionally, Meno Display features petite caps, both on the baseline and raised. Together with the alternate capitals and capital ligatures, these options can be used to create sophisticated word compositions with nested forms. Meno’s Display and Banner italics also feature swash capitals to further enhance the calligraphic feel of the typefaces. The expanded Meno series is a comprehensive typographic solution crafted for sophisticated editorial and publishing work. Restrained where it needs to be, elegant and expressive where it is allowed to shine, Meno covers a broad range of uses for art books and poetry, magazines and newspapers, newsletters and other periodicals, or any design project calling for elevated typography.