Almoneda: A Typeface Inspired by Madrid’s Flea Market

Courtesy Ale Santos/Sudtipos.

Name: Almoneda
Designer: Alejandro Santos
Foundry: Sudtipos
Release date: January 2022

Back Story: Santos found inspiration for his typeface near El Rastro, an open-air market set up on Sundays in the center of Madrid, offering a feast of objects bearing lettering and typefaces from the late 19th and early 20th century. Almoneda the font is the designer’s homage to the city, drawing on old graphic elements seen on walks around town as well.

Inspirational type from El Rastro, Madrid. Courtesy Alejandro Santos. Inspirational type from El Rastro, Madrid. Courtesy Alejandro Santos. Inspirational type from El Rastro, Madrid. Courtesy Alejandro Santos.

Four years in the making, Almoneda began with what Santos calls “crazy and ugly typefaces (mostly crazy).” Little by little, with the help of his friend and former teacher Juanjo López, he tackled the main challenge of forgetting about drawing pretty letters and creating a system of letters that had meaning and beauty both overall and individually.

Why’s it called Almoneda? In Madrid, the word almoneda is colloquially associated with spaces where the sale of “old things” takes place—in other words, the flea market. The typeface is named in honor of Santos’s love for all things flea.

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Almoneda features a great variety of stylistic sets and ligatures, along with some curious drawing styles. Considered together with the high stroke contrast axis in the curved letters, it all adds up to a most playful family. There is a beautiful “2” -shaped capital Q reminiscent of Palmer penmanship, and letters that get smaller and tuck neatly into the negative spaces of others alongside them. Variations of the capital F, A, and E have crossbars that curve gently like tildes, and the capital O leans way over to the left, like an old-style typeface. Stroke joins overall are varied and complex. 

“My main idea was to create an interlock typeface, inspired by the letters and resources used by the ceramists of Talavera de la Reina, which can be seen all over Madrid,” Santos says. “Once the general system was defined, the next big challenge was to create a system for automating the interlocking letters without using ligatures, so I could play with the tracking freely.” 

What should I use it for? Mainly for extravagant titles, large text, or logos; the variety of stylistic options allows plenty of opportunity for creative play. The designer offers one last piece of advice: “You can also use it at very small sizes and tell your worst enemy to read it, haha.” OK, maybe don’t do that. We’re all friends here.


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