To mark the 200th anniversary of the Frauen- und Carolinenbad in the Austrian spa town of Baden, an exhibition at the Arnulf Rainer Museum documented the history of the classicist building. The building itself was the most significant exhibit, as the museum moved into the Frauenbad 25 years after the baths ceased operating in 1973.
To accompany the exhibition, the Viennese design studio Metaphor designed the 224-page catalog 200 Years of the Frauenbad – Building Culture and the Art industry in the Spa Town of Baden near Vienna for its long-standing client. When sifting through the material (“a structured conglomeration of over 700 images”), Metaphor partners Natalie Dietrich and Thomas Jung quickly noticed that the building not only had an architectural story to tell, but also a typographic one. “From classical antiqua to Art Nouveau, from blackletter fonts to handwriting scripts, there was a history of typography across the whole building from the historical plans and contemporary photographs, down to the building lettering and graphic engravings,” said Jung.
Precisely because the catalog’s illustrations radiated a colorful typographic diversity, the two designers were looking for both a neutral, sans-serif typeface suited to body text and a strong characterful counterpart for the titles and headlines. “We found exactly what we were looking for at Fontwerk!” said Natalie Dietrich. “The combination of Case and Nikolai was the perfect match for us.” For Metaphor, the hybrid Nikolai formed the bridge between a “refined historical look and a contemporary yet radical reinterpretation”. In combination with the super clean Case Text, this resulted in exactly the desired typographic tension.