Kabel (typeface)

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Category Sans-serif
Classification Geometric sans-serif
Designer(s) Rudolf Koch
Foundry Gebr. Klingspor

Stempel Kabel

Shown here ITC Kabel

Kabel is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed by German typeface designer Rudolf Koch, and released by the Klingspor foundry in 1927. Today the typeface is licensed by the Elsner+Flake GbR foundry.


The face was not named after any specific cable, although the Zugspitze cable car had been completed in 1926, and a Berlin-Vienna facsimile telegraphy line opened in 1927. The name had techie cachet in its day (Piet Zwart's NKF kabel catalogue of 1927 is well-known) and is primarily metaphorical and allusive, a pun referring to both the monolinear construction of the face, and the role of type as a means of communication.

Like its contemporary Futura it bears influence of two earlier geometric sans-serif typefaces; the 1919 Feder Schrift, drawn by Jakob Erbar, and more so his 1922 design called Erbar. Still, Kabel is as much Expressionist as it is Modernist, and may be considered as a sans serif version of his 1922 Koch Antiqua, sharing many of its character shapes and proportions, most notably its peculiar 'g'. Stroke weights are more varied than most geometric sans-serifs, and the terminus of vertical strokes are cut to a near eight-degree angle. This has the effect of not quite sitting on the baseline and making for a more animated, less static feeling than Futura. Uppercase characters are broad and show influence of monumental roman capitals. The capital W has a superimposed, splayed structure similar to Garamond and the G has no terminal. Lowercase characters a, e, and g show a link with Carolingian script and Venetian old-style serif typefaces of the 15th century.

Victor Caruso's 1975 revival, licensed by D Stempel AG, for the International Typeface Corporation follows the formulary ITC approach of a dramatically increased x-height accompanied by multiple weights from Book to Ultra; this has also been resold under the name Koch Geometric.[1] Separately, Bhikkhu Pesala created the open-source revival Kabala, named after a Pāli word meaning 'a morsel of food' due to its intended use in Buddhist religious publications.[2] This release is inspired by the ITC weight set and structure, but adds a number of features including italics, small caps and combined characters.

Prominent usage[edit]

Google's corporate typeface, 'Product Sans', has some similarities to Kabel, in particular the angled 'e', but other features such as the 'M' and 'g' are very different, resembling Helvetica or Futura.[6] Product Sans is a proprietary design not available for licensing.


  1. ^ "Koch Geometric". Fontsite. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  2. ^ Pesala, Bhikku. "Kabala". Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  3. ^ DeLeone, Brad. "DeLeone Designs - Typographic Poster (Kabel)". DeLeone Designs. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Hudson, Rob (5 September 2013). "Yellow Submarine (1968) Opening Credits". Fonts In Use. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Piggly Wiggly Font". Font Meme. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Product Sans specimen" (PDF). Google. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 


  • Blackwell, Lewis. 20th Century Type. Yale University Press: 2004. ISBN 0-300-10073-6.
  • Fiedl, Frederich, Nicholas Ott and Bernard Stein. Typography: An Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques Through History. Black Dog & Leventhal: 1998. ISBN 1-57912-023-7.
  • Jaspert, W. Pincus, W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson. The Encyclopædia of Type Faces. Blandford Press Lts.: 1953, 1983. ISBN 0-7137-1347-X.
  • Macmillan, Neil. An A–Z of Type Designers. Yale University Press: 2006. ISBN 0-300-11151-7.

External links[edit]