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Inside the fonts: BF Buffalo travels back in time

Neville Brody lets typographers choose between the original and updated versions of BF Buffalo by way of well-thought-out Stylistic Sets. Now you can have your fonts and eat them, too.

BF Buffalo has a storied past. The design was initially an editorial type for a special issue of Arena Homme Plus, and then the signature face for London’s Anti Design Festival. This history reveals itself in certain glyphs that Neville Brody adapted and reworked during BF Buffalo’s life cycle. But instead of freezing the final iteration for the family’s exclusive commercial release on Type Network, Brody—with David Jonathan Ross’ expert assistance—decided to make the earlier forms available as a sort of typographic palimpsest.

You can access these stylistic alternates via stylistic sets, rather than manually selecting the shapes you want to change. This makes typesetting BF Buffalo faster and more efficient. Descriptive, human-readable names for the stylistic sets (supported in Apple apps, Adobe CC apps, and QuarkXPress; not in Affinity apps) take any guesswork out of the equation; you know exactly what you’re getting.

Graphic by Type Network showing SS2 (“Upright A”) and SS3 (“High-waisted P and R”) activated.
Activating both SS2 (“Upright A”) and SS3 (“High-waisted P and R”) increases the modularity of the text image with persistent square letterforms whose crossbars and midstrokes align consistently.

The Stylistic Sets offer two approaches. With SS1, named “Original forms,” users can switch on every available alternate glyph in one fell swoop, restoring BF Buffalo to its earliest incarnation. (They can also simply toggle on the blanket Stylistic Alternates.) Eight additional stylistic sets offer more granular control by changing single glyphs or related pairs.

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SS4 (“Narrow M and W”) gives BF Buffalo an industrial feel.

SS2 through SS4 cover alternate capital forms. SS2 (“Upright A”) transforms the A with conventional sloped sides into a square-shaped form, making the glyph consistent with other square capitals and accentuating the mock-monospaced flavor of the capitals. SS3 (“High-waisted P and R”) raises the crossbar of the P and R to approximately the same level as other letters with crossbars, like the straight-sided A or the H. SS4 (“Narrow M and W”) reverts M and W to their original compact shapes.

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SS5 (“Rounded d and g”) emphasizes the characters’ faceted shapes.

SS5 and SS6 control lowercase letters. SS5 (“Rounded d and g”) removes the corners in the d and g where straight stems transition into curves. SS6 (“Non-descending j”) moves the hook on the j upward until it aligns with the baseline, for an idiosyncratic look.

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SS6 (“Non-descending j”) allows users to experiment with descenderless wordshapes.

The final three stylistic sets—SS7 through SS9—deal with numerals. SS7 (“Narrow zero”) and SS8 (“Unserifed one”) limit the width of the 0 and 1. SS9 (“Six and nine with gaps”) changes the regular-looking 6 and 9 to stylish alternates with bowls that don’t connect all the way back into the curve.

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SS9 (“Six and nine with gaps”) make BF Buffalo go sci-fi, while SS7 (“Narrow zero”) and SS8 (“Unserifed one”) result in more compact numbers.

Whether you want to turn back time and restore the typeface to its original design or handpick the glyphs you prefer, BF Buffalo allows you to adapt its appearance to your liking, quickly and effortlessly.

Like all Brody Fonts releases, BF Buffalo is available for print, web, applications, and ePub licensing. Webfonts may be tested free for thirty days. To stay current on all things Brody, subscribe to Type Network News, our occasional email newsletter featuring font releases, foundry happenings, type and design events, and more.

Bald Condensed, né Yves Peters, is a Belgian-based rock drummer known for his astute observations on the impact of letterforms in the contemporary culture-sphere. A prolific writer on typography, he has a singular knack for identifying the most obscure typefaces known to humankind.