R is for Rotis


Rotis was designed by German designer Otl Aicher in 1988. Rotis is a ‘superfamily’ of typefaces, whose four basic variants are Rotis Serif, Rotis Semi-serif, Rotis Semi-sans and Rotis Sans. Aicher was reputedly ‘frustrated with the conservative mentality of many typographers who were determined to draw a clearly defined line between serif and sans serif typefaces’, and as a result sought to create transitional elements within a super font family that would blend serif and sans serif designs. Hardly surprising, then, that Rotis, named for a hamlet in the town where Aicher lived, was originally named ‘rotis’, because he believed capital letters were a sign of hierarchy and oppression. Rotis has been criticised for being a typeface that, while it has some good letters, lacks cohesion, proving that theory alone does not make for great typography. Either way, and despite the fact that I haven’t used it for quite some time, I have a soft spot for Rotis because it was the type family of choice for the first books I designed at the first publishing house I worked in.