Aldo Novarese

Portrait: Aldo Novarese
Aldo Novarese
© Archive Tipoteca Italiana, Italy

Aldo Novarese

Creator of his own typeface classification system

In the meanwhile the Italians haven’t yet realized the importance of this master. Not even a single word has recently been heard about him, only a few design students can accidentally see his name while flipping through the old glossy ‘international’ design manuals. Hopefully they’ll soon realize that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Rujana Rebernjak on Aldo Novarese, 2012

Aldo Novarese was born in the small Italian town of Pontestura Monferrato in 1920. He attended the Scuola Arteri Stampatori school of graphic art in nearby Turin from 1931 to 1933 where he studied wood engraving, copper engraving and lithography. After three further years of education at the Guiseppe Vigliandi Paravias school of typography, Novarese found employment at the Nebiolo type foundry. In light of his protests against Italian involvement in the Second World War, Novarese was sentenced to a spell in prison in 1939, although authorities were lenient in terms of his prison conditions due to the distinctions he was winning as a young artist.

After the War, he returned to a position at the Nebiolo foundry and in 1952 began work, in the role of artistic director, on the development of a host of typefaces. Among his most famous creations was the Microgramma sans serif font which he designed in collaboration with his colleague Alessando Butti. Ten years later, Microgramma’s successor Eurostile was published. In 1956, Novarese introduced his own typeface classification system which subdivided fonts into ten families according to historical, aesthetic and design criteria. He worked as a freelance typeface designer from 1975 until his death.