Established in Geneva, Switzerland, Optimo is a type foundry that designs and publishes premium typefaces, which are engineered to the highest standards and offer graphic designers and type-users long-lasting tools with a distinctive identity.
With the aim of releasing their own fonts, Gilles Gavillet, Stéphane Delgado, and David Rust founded Optimo in 1998. First initiated as a student project at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), Optimo has become an independent library of contemporary classics, drawn by influential designers.
Investigating typographic paradigms from different eras, our catalogue demonstrates a commitment to revisiting type history with a contemporary perspective. With an equal interest in the newest positions in today’s scene, we also propose innovative and experimental typefaces. We aim to create typefaces that will have a lasting impression on our culture.
In addition to our retail library, we offer custom fonts, bespoke versions of our typefaces, and language extensions for clients who need tailor-made designs.
With an international mindset, we have begun expanding the supported languages of our typefaces. For the moment, some of our typefaces offer Cyrillic and Greek language supports, in addition to the basic Latin character set.
All Optimo fonts are available exclusively through this website.
Gilles Gavillet, Founder
Following his studies at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), Gilles Gavillet worked for Cornel Windlin in Zürich for a few years, before moving to Geneva, where he now lives and works. In 2001, he established his studio specializing in editorial and visual identity projects, predominantly working in the cultural sector and with international clients. Gavillet has been teaching at the ECAL since 2008. He has received many distinctions for his work including the prestigious Jan Tschichold Prize in 2006 for his outstanding achievement in book design and the Grand Award for Design in 2012. His work has been featured and exhibited around the world. Since 2015, he has been the Head of the Jury of The Most Beautiful Swiss Books competition. In 1998, he co-founded Optimo and since then he has been directing the foundry’s operations.
Sandra Carrera, Project Management
Type designer originally from Spain and Switzerland, Sandra Carrera lives and works in Geneva. She holds a BA in Visual Communication from the Haute école d’art et de design de Genève (HEAD), Geneva and obtained a master’s degree in art direction and type design at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL). For the summer of 2013, Carrera interned at Commercial Type in New York, after which she worked at Production Type in Paris. She occassionally teaches at HEAD. In 2015, she joined the Optimo team, where she has developed and coordinated many type design projects.
Tanja Kern, Library Management
Originally from Lucerne, Tanja Kern currently lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland. Kern did an apprenticeship in graphic design, following one year in law school. In 2007, after collaborating with a non-profit organization specialized in intellectual property, she joined the Optimo team as a library manager, a role in which she assists the type foundry on diverse administrative tasks.
Louise Paradis, Licensing and Communications
Louise Paradis grew up in the Centre-du-Québec region in Canada and now lives and works in Montreal. She obtained a master’s degree in art direction from the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), and holds a bachelor’s of art degree in graphic design from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Paradis worked for several years as a graphic designer in Los Angeles, predominantly in the fashion industry. She also teaches regularly at UQAM and often gets involved in graphic design projects. Paradis is lead researcher, co-author, and co-designer of 30 Years of Swiss Typographic Discourse in the Typografische Monatsblätter, which was published by Lars Müller in 2013. The project was nominated for The Most Beautiful Swiss Books award. She joined the Optimo team in late 2018, managing licences and overseeing communications.
Géraldine Singy, Finance
Géraldine Singy lives in Vevey and works in Geneva, Switzerland. She studied accounting before completing both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in fine arts at the Haute école d’art et de design de Genève (HEAD) in Geneva. In 2013, she joined the Optimo team, for whom she monitors accounts and reviews financial reports.
Born in Geneva, Ludovic Balland lives and works in Basel, Switzerland. Balland graduated from the Basel School of Design and notably had Wolfgang Weingart as a teacher. In 2006, he founded the Ludovic Balland Typography Cabinet in Basel, which is now an established graphic design studio specializing in editorial projects for international clients. Balland taught at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL) for ten years in addition to giving lectures and workshops in Europe and the USA. Balland has been a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) since 2010 and was awarded the prestigious Jan Tschichold Prize in 2016 for his exceptional work in book design. He has also been awarded the highest international distinctions for his book design.
deValence is a creation studio based in Paris. The studio was founded by Alexandre Dimos and Gaël Etienne, in 2001, after meeting at the École régionale des beaux-arts de Valence (ESAD). With a diverse skillset, deValence provides expertise in the fields of graphic design, visual communication, and typography, for both print and digital media. Additionally, the studio has been involved in type design. deValence operates in French and European circles and has worked on projects for cultural institutions, publishing houses, and commercial brands. Since 2008, they have run Back Cover, an international magazine about graphic design and typography, and Éditions B42, a publishing house specializing in many topics related to design and typography.
Originally from Lausanne, Philippe Desarzens is an independent graphic designer based in Zürich since 2001. He studied at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL). Desarzens designs typefaces and produces different print-based works including posters, books, and catalogues for various projects and clients. He previously worked as an art director for various Swiss magazines. Since 2007, Desarzens has regularly taught at the Lucerne School for Graphic Design and at the F+F School of Art and Design in Zürich. He has also run several workshops and lectured in Switzerland and internationally. In 2013, he founded Side Issues, an independent imprint dedicated to the publication of projects in the fields of art, science, and design, a project which has brought him to attend several book fairs in San Francisco, Paris, and London.
Nicolas Eigenheer grew up on the shore of the lake of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He now lives and works in Zürich. Eigenheer graduated with a bachelor’s degree in visual communication from the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL). Active both in graphic and type design, he worked at the Gavillet & Rust studio in Geneva from 2006 to 2011, after which he took a position as a book designer at JRP Ringier publishers in Zürich. In 2018, he established his own design practice in Zürich. Nicolas Eigenheer was awarded at the Swiss Federal Design Awards in 2008 for his excellent type and graphic design work. Many of his book designs were recognized among The Most Beautiful Swiss Books over the years, including Peter Halley, Paintings of the 1980s, The Catalogue Raisonné, in 2019.
Born in France, in the Grésivaudan valley located in the French Alps, Julien Gaillardot studied graphic design at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL). Since 2002, he has been working as an independent graphic designer in Avignon, where he has been involved in many publications and cultural design projects. He regularly collaborates with the atelier nomades, a multidisciplinary studio engaging in architecture, design, landscape architecture, and urbanism projects.
Gavillet & Rust
Gavillet & Rust was the partnership between Gilles Gavillet and David Rust—until Rust’s tragic death in 2014. Gavillet and Rust met while studying at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL) and they started to collaborate on typeface designs during a stay at the Cranbrook Academy of Arts, in 1997. It was at Cranbrook where they developed their first typeface together, Detroit MM. Specializing in editorial design and visual identities, Gavillet & Rust developed many typefaces which have been used in their graphic design projects and later commercialized through Optimo Type Foundry. Additionally, both have taught at ECAL. Gavillet & Rust has received many distinctions for their work, including the prestigious Jan Tschichold Prize in 2006 for their outstanding achievements in book design and the Swiss Grand Award for Design in 2012. Their work has been featured and exhibited around the world.
Joost Grootens established his design studio in Amsterdam, Netherlands with a second location in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland. Grootens studied architectural design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and is a self-taught graphic designer. With an emphasis on data visualization, Studio Joost Grootens specializes in book design in the field of architecture, urban space, and art for international publishers and institutes. Grootens is head of the master’s of information design program at the Design Academy Eindhoven. He has also lectured at various institutions in Asia, Europe, and North America. Grootens is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, among them the Golden Letter and two Gold Medals in the Best Book Design From All Over the World competition. He was awarded the Rotterdam Design Prize in 2009 and he has been a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) since 2010. A monograph about his work, I swear I use no art at all was published by 010 Publishers in 2010.
Born in Munich, Germany, Philipp Herrmann studied graphic design at the University of Applied Arts (HGKZ) in Zürich, where he now lives and works. Active in both graphic and type design, his clients range from corporations to cultural institutions. He dedicates much if his time to designing of retail typefaces for the Out Of The Dark foundry. Herrmann is also involved in teaching type design through various workshops at Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) in Karlsruhe and at Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI) in Lugano. Philipp Herrmann was nominated at the Swiss Federal Design Awards in 2015 for his exceptional type design work.
Maximage is a loose structure of designers revolving around Julien Tavelli and David Keshavjee who met studying at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL). Established in 2008, in Switzerland, the studio is now located between London, Zurich and Geneva. Active in the fields of corporate, type, and editorial design, the studio’s work is often connected with an innovative and sensitive attitude toward technology and technique. Since 2008, Maximage has been holding typography and graphic design workshops at ECAL. The celebrated book, Typeface as Program, which was published by ECAL in 2009, is an account of their work process and the result of an experimental typography project accomplished during their studies. They are also involved in the research project Workflow developed at ECAL for which a database of color profiles was generated. The studio was awarded at the Swiss Federal Design Awards in 2011 for their remarkable work.
François Rappo lives and works in Saillon en Valais, Switzerland. Rappo studied graphic design in the early 1980s at the École cantonale des beaux arts (ECBA) in Lausanne, where he specialized in typography. After years of graphic design practice in both the cultural and the corporate fields, he became active in design education. From the mid-1990s, he taught editorial and type design at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), where he established the art direction master’s degree program in 2009, which became the type design master’s degree program in 2016. Additionally, Rappo frequently lectures about his typographic practice in Europe, Russia, and the USA. From 2001 to 2007, he was the president of the jury for The Most Beautiful Swiss Books competition. He was awarded the prestigious Jan Tschichold Prize in 2013 for his outstanding achievement in editorial design through his influential typeface designs.
Team’77 is André Gürtler, Christian Mengelt, and Erich Gschwind’s design partnership. Active in type design for more than forty years with international clients and foundries, they have been awarded the Swiss Grand Award for Design in 2015 for their outstanding achievement in typography with the creation of typefaces such as Alpin Gothic, Cyrillic Gothic, Avant Garde Gothic Oblique, Media, Signa, and Unica77.
André Gürtler studied at the Basel School of Design under Emil Ruder. He worked as a letterer for the Monotype Corporation in Salford in 1959 and with Adrian Frutiger at Debergny & Peignot in Paris between 1956 and 1965. Gürtler taught at the Basel School of Design until 2000. He is the founder of the ATypI committee for research and education and has been a long-term collaborator and member of the editorial team of the Typografische Monatsblätter journal.
Christian Mengelt studied graphic design at the Basel School of Design under Armin Hofmann. He collaborated with Karl Gerstner on projects such as Gerstner Programm and Swissair Futura. From 1972 to 2001 he taught type and graphic design at the Basel School of Design and has been head of the Fachklasse für Grafik since 1986. Mengelt has been a guest lecturer and held seminars and schools across Europe, the USA, and Mexico.
Erich Gschwind trained as a compositor and then studied typography and book printing at the Basel School of Design under Emil Ruder. He worked as a typographic designer in various printing houses and was responsible for corporate design at the medical science publisher S. Karger AG in Basel, for which he designed numerous scientific publications.
Chi-Long Trieu grew up in Fribourg, Switzerland. He now lives in Lausanne and often works with international design studios. Trieu graduated with a bachelor’s degree in visual communication from the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL). With experience at Maximage, Bureau Mirko Borsche, Gavillet & Cie, and Optimo, Trieu is an accomplished type and graphic designer. In 2016, with his brother Chi-Binh, he co-founded his own studio, Office for Typography, based in Switzerland and in Japan, through which he works on graphic design and type design projects. Trieu has been teaching at ECAL since 2014 and since 2015, he has been a lecturer at EPFL+ECAL Lab.
Niels Wehrspann was born in Sion, Switzerland. He studied graphic design at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL) in Lausanne, where he currently lives and works. In 2002, he co-founded Schönwehrs (Schönherwehrs), a design studio based in Geneva, which works on projects for various fields, including art, music, and culture. Continuing to work in said fields, he more recently opened Niels Wehrspann Studio in 2013, in Lausanne. Active in electronic music as well, he co-founded the music label Danse Noire in 2013. Wehrspann has held workshops and has taught at many schools and events in Switzerland and France. Wehrspann has received many awards for his work, including the European Design Award in 2009 and the 100 Best Posters—Germany, Austria, Switzerland in 2013.
Based in Italy, iKern is a company specializing in spacing and kerning founded and operated by engineer Igino Marini.
Founded in 2014 in Berlin, Alphabet Type is a company specializing in font production and type technology.
Based in Philadelphia, GrayBits is a design studio dedicated to building integrated, comprehensive and bespoke digital systems.
Gerry Leonidas is an Associate Professor of Typography at the University of Reading. He is also president of the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI) and co-founder of the Institute for the Study of Typography & Visual Communication (ISTVC) and the Granshan Foundation.
Alexei Vanyashin is a typeface designer, educator, and researcher. He is currently a guest Typography Lecturer at his alma mater, BHSAD, Moscow.
Graphic and type designer Valentin Brustaux lives and works in Zürich, Switzerland. He studied typography at the University of Reading, United Kingdom, successfully earning a master’s degree in typeface design in 2007. Brustaux has worked for many type companies, including Adobe, Optimo, and Tiro Typeworks, and for various western and non-Latin typographic projects (Cyrillic, Greek, Telugu, and Kannada). Since 2014, he he has taught graphic and type design at the École romande d’arts et communication (Eracom) in Lausanne. One of his most notable projects is the typeface Tiina, which was released by the late foundry Ourtype and received the Type Directors Club Certificate of Excellence in Type Design in 2008, as well as the Swiss Federal Design Award in 2010. Brustaux regularly works with Optimo on many type design projects.
Office for Typography
Based in Switzerland and in Japan, Office for Typography is the association of two brothers; Chi-Long and Chi-Binh Trieu. Together they work on graphic and type design projects. In collaboration with the Optimo team, Chi-Long designed the Optimo website.