BC Pramen Sans

The primary impulse for making the Pramen font family was Barell, a typeface created by Jiří Rathouský in the seventies for the Karlovy Vary Thermal hotel signage system. Barell is designed as a rounded-edged type for labelling hotel sections, numbering rooms, illuminated information signs and as a headline typeface for publications. Vojtěch Říha, however, wasn’t content with merely copying the preserved material and created his own typeface instead; Pramen uses Rathouský’s original work only as an inspiration and is not burdened by the time period of the original typeface design.

The whole font family has well-balanced proportions adjusted to meet contemporary standards. Lowered uppercases are unobtrusive in longer texts and allow space for distinct diacritics; lowercase letters are slightly increased in size in order to aid legibility in smaller sizes. The accentuation of each typeface is determined by a basic geometric construction – a convexly bulging rectangle. This governs the appearance of the vast majority of the uppercase and lowercase letters. This is most visible in all of the rounded shapes, but it is also apparent in the diagonals (e.g. “K”, “R”). A seemingly mechanical approach and no-frills composition are disrupted by methods more associated with some of the humanist sans-serifs: all stems, diagonals, ascenders and descenders are terminated by perpendicular lines. This lends the font a friendly and lively appearance. While the inside outlines of the circular strokes consist of sharp edges and corners, the outside contours are soft and rounded. The result is a surprisingly calligraphic character of the type, reminiscent of flat brush strokes.

The family comes with six weights, from Light to Black, each containing true italics. These have narrowed width proportions and their appearance is inspired by traditional italics, including slant, deep stem to arch connections and the alternated appearance of several characters. These include the usual single-storey “a”, but also the uppercase “G” and “J”, or the lowercase “k”, “v”, “w”, “x” and “y”.

Vojtěch Říha has managed to create a modern type family that combines the world of geometry with calligraphic methods in an original way. Thanks to its original appearance, good legibility and pleasant range of styles, Pramen will find applications in the majority of areas of graphic design, be it posters, signage systems, magazines, corporate identities or the Web.


BC Pramen 1


Sketches for the Pramen family; designed by Vojtěch Říha; 2010.


BC Pramen 2


Details of unusual drawn variants of the Pramen font. Specimen, designed by Vojtěch Říha; 2010.


BC Pramen 3


The idea for designing the Barell typeface was the character emanating from a barrel shape. The font was created in only one style. The typeface was originally titled Thermal, the name of the hotel whose information system the type was designed for. Designed by Jiří Rathouský; 1973.


BC Pramen 4


A detail of the Barell typeface, showing the specific curved shapes and outstrokes, that inspired Vojtěch Říha to draw his Pramen. Pramen uses Rathouský’s original work only as an inspiration and is not burdened by the time period of the original typeface design.


BC Pramen 5


The visual style of the Hotel Thermal was complex and the logo was used as a hallmark of the Thermal swimming pool.


BC Pramen 6


The Thermal typeface worked great in headline sizes as an orientation system, room & hall numbering and Hotel Thermal cinema entrances.


Design: Vojtěch Říha
Number of fonts in a family: 12 (Light, Light Italic, Regular, Italic, Medium, Medium Italic, Semibold, Semibold Italic, Bold, Bold Italic, Black, Black Italic)
Number of glyphs per font: 571
Release date: 2014


OpenType Features:
Proportional Figures (pnum)
Tabular Figures (tnum)
Stylistic Sets (salt ss01)
Ligatures (liga)
Old Style Numerals (onum)
Lining Figures (lnum)
Localized Forms (locl)
Case Sensitive Forms (case)
Slashed Zero (zero)