Back Story: Here’s the first scary quote, straight from the mouth of Blaze Type’s Matthieu Salvaggio: “We went to Hell. As we wandered around, we gathered strange glyphs carved upon walls made of dark stones. We came back with a typeface. It is a font family drawn with a monk’s pen, possessed by evil beings. Inferi is a tool made to speak the words which will end the world.”
Oh dear. On a less terrifying note, the process of designing Inferi started when the good people at this French type foundry wanted to design a historical/classical font for editorial use because no such thing existed in their catalog. Yet.
Why is it called Inferi? Inferi means “Hells,” and the name is a sort of tribute to Dante’s Divine Comedy.
On that note, here’s the second scary quote from Salvaggio: “The lightest weight of the family is super thin and twisted, a tortured soul like Dante journeying through the nine circles of Hell. The Black version is dark and cold; it embodies the representation of Satan ruling in the center of Hell. We released another Christian-inspired font, Apoc, a year ago. Although it looks more devilish than Inferi, I like to believe that the very root of the concept of Inferi embodies all things evil and satanic.” Sister! Fetch the holy water!
What are its distinguishing characteristics? This font is inspired by the 17th century super-legible Garalde typefaces designed by masters such as Claude Garamond and the Venetian printer Aldus Manutius for use in books. However, Inferi throws in its own twist: its letterforms are a bit wider and its x-height is taller than what’s seen in a typical Garalde. There is a great deal of contrast between the roman and italic versions that creates a lovely optical gray over long passages of type.
“Inferi is a bridge between calligraphy and letterforms carved in stone,” Salvaggio says in his third, not-so-scary quote. “The overall design tends to break between smooth curves and straight angles—I love the lowercase ‘a’ for this reason. The italic lowercase ‘y’ looks like it’s throwing itself forward; in general, the italics were drawn using an even more radical approach.” Indeed, there are some charming little oddities in the italics—for example, the roman lower case ‘r’ has an almost-ball terminal that becomes sharp and angular in the italic version.
What should I use it for? The weights from Book to Bold are useful for editorial projects, both in print and on screen.
And now, for a final, totally non-scary quote from the type designer: “If you are keen on designing posters, large-type layouts for landing pages, video, mapping and such, both the lightest and boldest weights (Dante, Thin, Extra Light, Ultra Light, Extra Bold, Black) will be awesome to play with.”
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Inferi’s dark side suddenly feels charming and roguish when paired with a fairly innocent-looking sans, such as Theinhardt, which comes in a wide variety of weights to mix and match for maximum contrast. Remember: without light, there are no shadows.