Steven Heller’s
Font of the Month

A typeface that strikes a chord is akin to the sound of an arresting musical notation. You not only can see each letterform working in concert, you can virtually hear the harmonic precision and tonal perfection. Whether or not the result is melodious, synchronistic or atonal the experience brings pleasure to the eye — and, listen closely, to the ear. Type is an instrument for expression. It can reach high, low and all the notes in between. In music or typography achieving balance between all the elements is the highest goal.

Some of the most satisfying typographic melodies derive from typefaces that share classical and contemporary phrases. Magnat achieves a fusion of vintage and novel. The ultimate tone that emerges expresses today but references yesterday. The combo of thick and thin elements is percussive yet soothing.

Like Bodoni it has the allure of antiquity and the wisp of modernity. It combines an historical quality with a strand of eccentricity. It offers versatility in the way its shapes are juxtaposed. It can be used in a formal or informal manner. It evokes seriousness and frivolity. At once Magnat feels like a serif but is clearly a sans. Its music is sharp in its variations, at once orchestral and intimate.

Steven Heller is nothing short of a legend in the design community. Award-winning graphic designer, author and editor of hundreds of books (yes, 100s!) and one of the world’s foremost authorities on graphic design history; and arguably its best design commentator. You can also follow Steven on the must-read The Daily Heller and read his latest book, Type Speaks.

Its visual and aural duality is achieved through the ingenious and seamless combination of thick and thin. Each letter has a character all its own yet works brilliantly together. I am particularly fond of the capital Q and R — the swoop of thin lines serves as a comic touch. But the lowercase a and g also, especially in bold, standout nicely both as text and headline; each letter is sturdy with a sculptural strength. I admit it is arguably fussy and somewhat baroque in its complexity. Nonetheless, it is at once elegant, practical and delightfully transcendent.

August 2021: Magnat by Studio René Bieder

previous: An Interview with Fontfabric

next: Steven Heller’s Font of the Month: Oposta