Every type design story
is a ghost story.
A typeface designed by Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini and Andrea Tartarelli.
Grotesque sans typefaces: you know you won’t ever get tired of those.
And any moment you decide that Vignelli was right and one swiss font is enough... modernist letterforms will come back to you in some irresistible new variation.
This became evident to us when a designer friend asked us “what’s your Helvetica?”, implying that we had in our catalog the mandatory grotesque sans serif designed in the wake of the “swiss typeface” tradition. Having a past in branding and editorial design, we can understand this need. You want a sans serif grotesque that has the perfect blend of historical & timeless mood, that is neutrally modern but is still stylishly vintage. Basically, you want Helvetica, but not the one everybody else is using.
The point is that while the “Helvetica” commercial name is unique, the helvetica-ness of its shape is a typographic ghost in the machine. We have seen countless variations on the elusive platonic ideal of helvetica-ness: the best ones, like good music covers, manage to both give a feeling of the original while also adding something to it. But also: they make us feel that there is still a new version to discover. The design space of grotesque sans serifs may be tight and crowded, but contains multitudes.
Naturally, this makes for a great type design challenge - something where the options are subtle and choices almost unnoticeable. Whoever you decide to be in the details - either God or the Devil - you surely need a taste for the infinitesimal to work with these shapes. Type design borders sandstoning shapes, in a delicate equilibrium between modernist precise ideals and the fascinating energy of old lead grotesques. The haunted house of Helvetica is very tight, and full of impalpable ghosts.It's a tight and crowded design space, so design decisions are subtle and almost unnoticeable. Whoever you decide to be in the details - either God or the Devil - you surely need a taste for the infinitesimal to work with these shapes. Time design borders sandstoning shapes, in a delicate equilibrium between modernist precise ideals and the fascinating energy of old lead grotesques.
Milligram main family, developed in seven weights, is display oriented, with tight spacing and a very high x-height, allowing a very compact typesetting and an effective usage of space in titling, headings and logos. For long body text typesetting a text subfamily has been developed offering a slightly wider set of proportions, looser spacing and more open counterspaces. On the other side of the spectrum is the “super-display” Milligram Macro subfamily, featuring ultra tight spacing and design optimized for best effect in logo and big size titling uses.
While on a macro level the design of Milligram is faithful to the ideals of neutrality of swiss typography, the design details go in a different direction, strongly inspired by the first lead sans serifs. Since the beginning, for example, we decided to drop the modernist orthogonality of terminals and, maybe influenced by our previous adventures with Cairoli and Etrusco, follow the grotesque, slanted approach for the cuts. We also tried to incorporate in the design small reminiscences of historical typefaces that we loved - like the backwards slanting hook of Miller & Richards n. 8 Grotesque or the closed, curvy counterspaces derived by Stephenson Blake’s Grotesque № 6 (1908).