Bilo is a grotesque in the literal sense of the term, some may say. Pieter van Rosmalen challenges many of the common design practices that aim for smooth curves and harmoniously progressing rounds. The ‘o’ or ‘e’ in the bolder styles, for instance, are not circular but rather oblong, egg-shaped ovals. In lighter styles, the sharp curves are also visible at the top and bottom of round characters giving Bilo an unusual and charming feel.
Van Rosmalen started exploring shapes of this kind in 2014 in an attempt to design a low-contrast sans-serif version of Bodoni. Nothing really came off of this but the shape of the lowercase ‘o’ of Bodoni’s black weight stuck with him and inspired Bilo ExtraBold, the first weight he drew. Some other remaining hints of Bodoni are the slightly concave upper terminals of lowercase stems and the shape of the ‘n’ for instance. Bilo’s proportions progress from slender, classy light and regular styles to stubby, wider bolds and black – 9 weights in total with moderately low x-height. This weight range is complemented by unusually steep italics for a sans-serif, another reference to Bodoni-like typefaces. The extreme weights best shine in generous sizes – in print or on screen – while Light to Bold are also suitable for short copy. The uppercase characters stay rather compact which is great for texts with many capital letters or all-caps settings.
Some of Bilo’s signature characters, like ‘G’, ‘R’ or ‘a’, make it easy to recognize and unique. You can customize the design and dress things up or down by using one or several of the included alternate glyphs via OpenType features. For instance, there is an ‘a’ with a more conventional bowl, and a round, single-storey one which changes the flavour of the grotesque quite significantly in the direction of a geometric sans. Lowercase ‘f’ is also available with a shortened top curve and in a third form with a one-sided crossbar (analogously ‘t’ and ‘ß’). For ‘y’ you can choose a more English form with a hooked descender. Arrows, several sets of numerals and fractions round out the comprehensive character set, but the secret star of the family is Bilo the dog. The typeface is named after the pet of van Rosmalen’s sister – Bilo (pronounced bee-low) – and each style includes 18 different dog-related icons designed by Dirk Uhlenbrock. Go find ’em!
Pieter van Rosmalen
Bilo supports the following languages
Afrikaans, Albanian, Asu, Basque, Bemba, Bena, Bosnian, Breton, Catalan, Chiga, Colognian, Cornish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Embu, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Faroese, Filipino, Finnish, French, Friulian, Galician, Ganda, German, Gusii, Hawaiian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Igbo, Inari Sami, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Jola-Fonyi, Kabuverdianu, Kalaallisut, Kalenjin, Kamba, Kikuyu, Kinyarwanda, Latvian, Lithuanian, Lower Sorbian, Luo, Luxembourgish, Luyia, Machame, Makhuwa-Meetto, Makonde, Malagasy, Malay, Maltese, Manx, Meru, Morisyen, North Ndebele, Northern Sami, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Nyankole, Oromo, Polish, Portuguese, Quechua, Romanian, Romansh, Rombo, Rundi, Rwa, Samburu, Sango, Sangu, Scottish Gaelic, Sena, Shambala, Shona, Slovak, Slovenian, Soga, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, Taita, Teso, Tongan, Turkish, Turkmen, Upper Sorbian, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Vunjo, Walser, Welsh, Western Frisian, Yoruba and Zulu.