Mazagan is inspired by Marocaines, an unusual early 20th-century serif display typeface from the French Foundry Mayeur. In the Foundry’s type specimen, Marocaines was advertised as a darker companion for Roman types which lacked a bold weight, particularly for the new Elzevirs.
We have developed this typeface into a full family. This allows for a broader use of the typeface, from exhibition identities to book jackets. Its wide cut, sharp details and unique shapes instantly create a personable and robust identity. Mazagan comes in four weights from Medium to Super, with matching italics.
Mazagan doesn’t really fit in any of the common type classifications. However, even though it may look surprising and even a little awkward at first sight, there is an air of familiarity to it. It gets inspiration from ‘Marocaines,’ a novelty type reproduced in the Fonderie Mayeur type specimen (Paris, 1912). The same typeface is also featured in other specimen books of the same period, including the FTF (Fonderie Typographique Française). The unique design is quite appealing, yet—while it appears to be reasonably functional—some of the letters stand out so much from the rest of the character set that you can hardly consider it a good typeface.
The thing that initially caught our attention was not Marocaines’ design but its name. It is pretty easy to deduce the aim of this typeface: lending an exotic appearance, a Moroccan look to a Latin typeface by introducing swashes reminiscent of Arabic calligraphy in some the letterforms. This approach is typical for the 19th and early 20th century, when Europe witnessed a fascination for Orientalism. We still have to track down who the designer was.
Because it was the closest weight to the original Marocaines typeface, exceptionally we started by drawing the Bold, followed by the Medium and Super. The Black weight was then generated by interpolating the Bold with the Super. Letters C and the G were completely redesigned, the S suffered similar treatment, and the contrast in the O and Q was reduced. Another major alteration was changing the diagonal strokes in the B, P and R to horizontal ones. For the lowercase, some key elements such as the shape of the lowercase h, m, n, and u, b, d, p, q were preserved, while others had to be re-invented, like the c, e, g, and s. The a, while not being entirely new, still differs considerably from the original character shape.
The original typeface came with a set of alternate letters that were meant to enhance the Arabic appearance by extending some of the ascenders and descenders. We kept those variants that made sense in the new design. The alternate H, L, M, N, and h, m, and n are present in Mazagan; the alternate s amongst others were removed. The original lining numerals come as the default figure style and there is set of old style figures; both styles are available in tabular and proportional variants.
The italics had to be completly invented. Their design pretty much adheres to the concept of a sloped roman, yet with a few genuine italic nuances to give them an interesting cursive appearance. As a tribute to the original typeface we added two fancy swashes for the capital A and M.
In the Fonderie Mayeur specimen, Marocaines was advertised as a darker companion for Roman types that lacked a bold weight, particularly for the new Elzevirs. However, it can be used for many more purposes: on book jackets, posters, and album covers, in packaging and branding, for editorial design, signage, invitations, restaurant menus, and any circumstance that calls for an exotic touch. The uniqueness of the design instantly creates a personable and robust identity straight out of the box.
The name Mazagan
The most interesting aspect of Marocaines is that the designer attempted to infuse a roman typeface with visual cues from Arabic calligraphy. Not wanting to adopt an apparent Arabic word for the name, I tried to reflect this element by paying homage to the Arabic influences in our Portuguese culture (and vice-versa) throughout history. Previously known as Mazagan (Portuguese: Mazagão), El Jadida is a port city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. It is located 106 km south of Casablanca in the Doukkala-Abda region of the El Jadida province. The fortified Portuguese city of Mazagan was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, by its status as an “outstanding example of the interchange of influences between European and Moroccan cultures” and as an “early example of the realisation of the Renaissance ideals integrated with Portuguese construction technology.” After they seized the city in 1502, the Portuguese built a citadel in 1514, and a more extensive fortification in 1541. They would continue to control the city until 1769 when they abandoned Mazagão, their last territory in Morocco. Upon their forced departure, the Portuguese destroyed the Governor’s Bastion and evacuated to the Portuguese colony of Brazil, where they founded a new settlement called Nova Mazagão (now in Amapá). The city was then taken over by Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah in 1769 and remained uninhabited, having been dubbed al-Mahdouma (“The Ruined”). Eventually, Sultan Abd al-Rahman of Morocco ordered the construction of a mosque and had the destroyed portions of the city rebuilt. The reinvigorated city was renamed al-Jadida or “The New.”
Designed by Mário Feliciano, 2015—2017
Proportional Lining Figures
Proportional Oldstyle Figures
Tabular Lining Figures
Tabular Oldstyle Figures
Proportional Lining Figures
Proportional Old Style Figures
Tabular Lining Figures
Tabular Old Style Figures
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About this Character Set
Characters with more than one vertical position such as small figures are only displayed once.
Characters with more than one advanced width, such as figures, are only displayed once.
Case sensitive glyphs are not displayed.