Minuscule is a typeface designed for very small sizes. Its creation was inspired by the theories of ophthalmologist Emile Javal and his “theory of compact prints” (Physiologie de la lecture et de l’écriture /Physiology of reading and writing, Paris, Alcan, 1905). I initiated this project during my studies at the Atelier national de recherche typographique in 2001-2002, and completed it, designing the italics in 2006–2007 during a residency in the Académie de France in Rome – Villa Médicis.
The font comes in five versions, all optimised for 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2 points. The design evolves progressively as "the size decreases": the spacing and the x-height increase, the contrast decreases, inktraps appear and the design is simplified. The MinUscule 2 is the strangest: “at this size, said Javal, we read most the difference between the letters”. As a consequence, the particularities of each sign are exaggerated, and the secondary details eliminated.
The contrast of the italics is not found in the spacing, almost identical to the roman, but by a more rhythmic design, progressively more lively and broken.
The Minuscule has received a number of awards: Type Directors Club in New York in 2005 (Certificate of excellence in type design); Erik Spiekermann declared it to be the Favourite Font of 2007 in Typographica (http://typographica.org/typeface-reviews/minuscule/ ), and Paul Shaw described it as one of the typefaces of the decade in Print magazine (http://www.printmag.com/imprint/ten-typefaces-of-the-decade/ ). In 2016, a collection of 256 original drawings of the Minuscule were acquired by the Centre national des arts plastiques.