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Okt 10, 2016

Forsberg — A distinct type

written by Anna Thurfjell

There is so much to say about Karl-Erik Forsberg, (1914-1995), whom is considered one of Sweden’s foremost typeface- and graphic designer. He was also a great calligrapher, painter and teacher. I can only give you a »glimpse« into his distinct work.

The beautiful alphabet design called »Forsberg« is an exclusive design for Svenska Dagbladet in the 1960’s. The letterform are clearly inspired by the Roman capital letter form and is a very distinct letter design. I’ve had the pleasure to work with the Forsberg type for more than a decennium in redesign projects at Svenska Dagbladet (where I was Creative Director 2003-2013) in the building of the visual identity, in print and digital.

I redesigned Svenska Dagbladet in print a couple of times (2004, 2008, 2013) and the title-piece was carefully redrawn by Swedish typeface designer Örjan Nordling (2004) a specialist on Forsberg’s work with the knowledge based on the craft of a new edition of Forsbergs typeface; »Berling Antiqua« in digital called »Berling Nova«. I also directed adjustments of the Forsberg alphabet typeface: »Forsberg SvD« owned by Svenska Dagbladet. These adjustments were made by the Swedish typeface designer Mark Winelid, Typecraft AB, who also digitalised and redraw the original Forsberg typeface back in 1995.

Forsberg did a number of typefaces: Parad, Lunda, Carolus, Ericus and the famous »Berling Antiqua«, 1951; a renaissance typeface drawn with the purpose to be used for the Swedish language. Forsberg also worked as the artistic leader at the book publishing companies Almqvist & Wiksell and Norstedt. The book design of the »Bible«, 1954, with images by Rembrandt is considered one of his greatest work and was designed with his own typeface Berling.

That he was a great calligrapher is visible in all his design. He designed a calligraphy look for the Nobel Prize Physiology or Medicine diplomas, that has been consistent in the look, since 1965. In 1974 he received the title »royal graphic designer«, which is really a story of it’s own. As a »Swede« you could not have missed to have seen his logotypes around you. For instance he draw the clear monogram logotype: »SR«, Sveriges Radio (Swedish Broadcasting) and Forsberg also designed the logotype for »Volvo«, to just mention two very distinct logotype designs.

In the latest redesign I did of SvD, in 2013, I collaborated with Mark Porter, British designer, in the design of the new Sunday culture magazine: SvD Kultur where we let the type lead and used it really big in the design, I think what Mark said in the project can describe what’s so special about Forsberg: »That typeface is very distinct and it’s wonderful to have a typeface with such a strong personality«.

Svenska Dagbladet

Magazine design with type personality