Lava was designed for magazine use, but far transcends its original application. It’s a no-nonsense workhorse typeface that can handle large quantities of text with ease. It’s extremely legible and harmonious at small sizes, sophisticated and elegant at large sizes. Since its launch in 2013, it has become a popular choice for editorial magazines, adopted by countless printed and online publications world-wide.
Read more about development of Lava▸
Lava is part of Typotheque’s Global Font collection supporting hundreds of languages and various writing scripts. The basic Lava version (Extended Latin) supports all Latin-based European languages (Western, Central and Eastern European, Baltic, Turkish). Separately, Lava is available also in the Cyrillic and Greek versions, Devanagari, and South Indian writing scripts of Kannada and Telugu. Hebrew, Georgian, Armenian, Thai, Gurmukhi and Korean versions are currently in development. Additionally, we’ve matched Lava to work with a beautiful Arabic typeface Harir, available from TPTQ-Arabic.com.
All weights of Lava include nine different kinds of numerals. Default numerals are proportional old-style (ranging) numerals. The typeface includes: OsF (Old-style proportional Figures) for use in running text. Lining figures for use with capitals letters, because their proportions match the height of caps. Small Caps figures for use in all small caps setting, Tabular (both Lining and OsF), Superior and Inferior figures, and finally Circled and Circled inverted figures.
Lava was originally designed to contain just four weights, ranging from Regular to Heavy. In 2021, when we started working on Thai and Korean versions of Lava, it became clear, that we also need lighter weights which are preferred by the local readers, and work to include the lighter styles across all scripts.
Variable optical spacing for optimal legibility
Lava is also available in a variable font format with automatic size-specific tracking, where the shapes of letters did not change, but their spacing and kerning is size specific, triggered by the user’s size selection. Essentially, we spaced and kerned every font in the family three times, for a small size of about 6 points, a default size of 10 points, and a large size of 48 points, at the intended viewing distance of 40 cm. The increased horizontal spacing is beneficial for reading acuity and significantly improves reading performance. Read an essay about the background to the year long research we carried out into optical spacing.
Proportions & Conventions
Dealing with various unrelated writing scripts, while aiming for cultural authenticity and maintaining the design principles of the typeface is extremely challenging. Each writing tradition requires rethinking the horizontal and vertical proportions of the typeface, and stroke weight distribution. Additionally, each writing script has a different text density, so the basic stroke weight needs to be modified in order to achieve balanced overall text image. We need to research the cultural traditions and conventions, influences of technology, to render diverse languages correctly, with respect, and in the aesthetically and technological highest level.
Lava (Latin, Greek) was designed in 2013 by Peter Biľak. Cyrillic version was designed by Ilya Ruderman. Devanagari version was designed in 2019 by Parimal Parmar and the Telugu and Kannada version by Ramakrishna Saiteja. Lava Hebrew is designed by Michal Sahar. Lava is paired with Harir, an Arabic typeface designed by Bahman Eslami.