SwissTypefaces’ Suisse BP Int’l

SwissTypeface's Suisse BP Int'l Typeface

There are two beautiful things you must check out today. First, is the launch of B+P’s SwissTypefaces, a type foundry dedicated to the design and production of Swiss-style typefaces. As a result, I am already extremely interested in them. In their own words:

b+p is a foundry that makes Swiss typefaces. Traditional? Only on our own terms. Swiss? If we say so.

Of course, the reigns of tradition don’t come free. We took them piece by piece: hours in archives, models discovered and heroes destroyed. We learned to see in the past what speaks to the present; we learned to take without reverence and to impose our will. As the field of typography has diversified, we have stayed true to the vision of Swiss type that we developed. Conquering tradition gave us the skills and courage to experiment.

Secondly, those interested in grotesque typefaces such as the world-famous Helvetica, the beautiful Univers and the revolutionary Akzidenz-Grotesk should check out one of SwissTypefaces’ offerings: Suisse BP Int’l.

Suisse BP Int'l used by MagmaBrandDesign for the German Art Director Club

Suisse BP Int'l used by MagmaBrandDesign for the German Art Director Club

Suisse BP Int'l used by MagmaBrandDesign for the German Art Director Club

Suisse BP Int'l used by MagmaBrandDesign for the German Art Director Club

Suisse BP Int'l used by MagmaBrandDesign for the German Art Director Club

Suisse BP Int'l used by MagmaBrandDesign for the German Art Director Club

Images above courtesy of MagmaBrandDesign's work for the German Art Director Club, on

Typefaces We Can Make Exhibition featuring Suisse BP Int'l

Another Helvetica spin-off? Really?

There will, I guarantee, be plenty of people already wondering what difference there is between Suisse BP Int’l and Helvetica. Admittedly, the differences are subtle but combined together they create a different personality that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Allow me to point out what are, to me, some of the major differences.

Comparing Helvetica and Suisse BP Int'l lowercase 'a'

Whenever I check out a new grotesque sans-serif typeface, such as DaltonMaag’s Aktiv Grotesk, the first character I nearly always examine is the lowercase double-storey ‘a’. Usually, in bold, too.

You can already see the differences. The finial on Helvetica Neue terminates completely flat horizontally. Not so for Suisse BP Int’l where the finial is cut off at a very slight angle.

The bowl is also completely different; you’ll note in Helvetica Neue that the top of the bowl connects back to the stem with a smooth curve, a characteristic which results in that famous teardrop shape in the counter. Suisse BP Int’l removes this curved connection to the stem, much like Aktiv Grotesk, which therefore opens the counter a lot more and simplifies the overall shape of the character.

You can also spot a minor difference in how the foot of the stem is drawn; Helvetica Neue features a stem that is largely completely flat vertically until it reaches the base where it flicks off nicely with a little curve. Suisse BP Int’l also features a small curve on the stem but this curvature begins much higher up than Helvetica Neue and is less pronounced. Reminiscent of Univers.

Finally, you may also note how the general curvature of Helvetica Neue is quite tight in places (check the tight corner from the top of the stem to the top of the finial, as an example). In Suisse BP Int’l, this curvature is much smoother and slightly more open, producing a much more rounded character form.

That’s Just One Letter

Alright then, here’s another, the lowercase ‘s’.

Comparing Helvetica Neue with Suisse BP Int'l lowercase 's'

First, note how Helvetica Neue’s lowercase ‘s’ terminates; the terminals cut off again completely flat horizontally, whereas Suisse BP Int’l, much like its lowercase ‘a’, cuts off at an angle at both terminals (Aktiv Grotesk, in contrast, is a mixture of the two, cutting off flat horizontally flat at the bottom terminal but at an angle on the top terminal).

The differences in curvature, as noted before, are also apparent. For the Helvetica Neue, note how as the stroke curves from vertical to horizontal that the curve is rather tight. In contrast, Suisse BP Int’l features curves that are much more gradual and rounded, opening up the typeface a little more.

You can see how Suisse BP Int’l compares with other grotesque sans-serifs below.

Comparing Suisse BP Int'l with other grotesque typefaces

Convinced! Where Can I Get It?

Head on over to SwissTypefaces’ Suisse BP page to see the variety of weights and packages they offer.

But you know what’s also rad? They’re even offering a free trial of the complete Suisse BP family to try out in your own layouts. Seriously! You have nothing to lose.

You can also follow SwissTypefaces on Twitter.

Ian Cylkowski aka Izo

Logo & Identity Design

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4 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. Font guy,

    The typeface used on the “Types We Can Make” poster is actually called Antique. Which is François Rappo’s revival of the original Helvetica medium cut.

  2. I never used either one of the fonts you compare here… but now that you’ve pointed them out I must say I like Helvetica more. It looks more cursive, more natural to me, although I don’t think I would have noticed the differences myself. Nice comparison.

    • Izo,

      Thanks! Obviously Helvetica Neue has had a lot more work put into it, but I’m always happy to see different ideas and philosophies behind other grotesque typefaces. I must, after trying out Suisse BP Int’l, I do rather like it and shall be purchasing a few weights. =]


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