Designer: Philip Cronerud
Release Date: December 28, 2015
Back Story: mediumextrabold design studio, currently located in Amsterdam, was first based in Stockholm. Its monotone, high contrast website (featuring some very cool animated GIFs) describes their typeface collections as “a blend of normality with a utilitarian aesthetic rooted in Scandinavian design culture.” The studio treats type as limited edition artworks; when an edition sells out, it’s no longer available.
Why’s it called North? North was originally part of another project to create a distinct aesthetic for each of the four cardinal compass points. Cronerud scrapped that idea early in the the process to focus on one single direction, choosing North because it represents the gold standard of navigation.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? According to Cronerud, he “was looking to reinvent the conventions of classical serifs, yet add a sort of awkwardness to the letterforms to lend them a masculine personality.” North takes some of its inspiration from Art Deco but throws in a good deal of quirk, resulting in a sharp yet humanistic-feeling serif typeface.
Several letterforms—lowercase f, k, and y, plus the capital M, W, and T—fly off the grid to do their own thing. The T, for instance, is the only letter with slanted serifs at the top, while the W leans to the right as if a puff of wind blew it abruptly off center, and the M collapses in on itself. Meanwhile, the bubbly aspects of the f, k, and y adds a dose of charm.
What should I use it for? North’s high x-height and generous width makes it suitable for both display and running texts. It’s particularly appealing set in all caps and widely letterspaced for display. It holds its own in high design situations like museum posters and exhibit catalogs, where the artwork needs a typeface that can stand up to it, and it’s also easy to imagine it as movie titles.