Polo – the original
It was an innovation when first designed and still fresh almost 50 years later. Polo is a pioneering sans serif and Georg Saldens most popular and influential typeface.
The typeface combines the purposeful charisma of a grotesque with the harmonious legibility of a roman typeface. It is undoubtedly one of the most important so‑called humanistic sans serif typefaces.
Totally unique for its time, Polo had a decisive influence on the development of later contemporary typefaces. Salden says that his intention is to create type designs that have legible, harmonious forms. Yet, his typefaces are always surprisingly new and original.
There is of course the ‘g’ with the open loop, which had never previously been attempted in a sans serif.
Initially not part of the design – in the first Polo designs, the ‘g’ loop is still closed – it was the result of an attempt to lighten the complex form, thinning the curve more and more before opening it, if only slightly. Visually, the eye is still able to complete the loop.
Polo encapsulates how Georg Salden works, making formal decisions based on meaning. The shapes always arise from the type’s function. For example, the sloping stem heads are not a formal gimmick, but have the function of making the x-height more harmonious. The necessarily lowered crossbars at f and t, but also the head bars of other letters fit in better, when the stem heads are cut at an angle.
Also the figures in this typeface are extraordinary: lining figures with minimal ascenders and descenders. “They are the true touchstone of every type designer: there are hardly any more beautiful figures than those of Georg Salden.” (Erik Spiekermann)
To Salden, expressiveness and legibility aren’t opposed – in fact, quite the contrary. His typefaces have personality and character, telling a unique and clear story regardless of the text’s content.
In 1989, Salden produced the first Polo digital fonts, deciding to do different versions for various sizes. During the era of lead composition it was natural for font sizes to be drawn differently, depending on the favourable form and spacing of each respective size. Salden made two initial versions of Polo: Polo 11 for small font sizes and Polo 22 for the larger sizes. Later, Salden added Polo 66, which is slightly lighter and narrower, better suited for use in headlines and narrow columns.
Since its appearance in 1972, Polo has grown into an extensive type family. However, these are not automatic and liveless interpolations as common today. Georg Salden designed every style and weight by hand. Real originals.
Georg Salden belongs to the tradition of type greats from past centuries. As a designer, his belief is that good typefaces should contain a balance of legibility, harmony and beauty: ‘I try to bring clarity and beauty to the font. A clear, beautiful typeface is always legible.’
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