Courtesy Fontsmith.

Names: FS Ostro, FS Kim, and FS Neruda
Designers: Alessia Mazzarella, Krista Radoeva, and Pedro Arilla
Foundry: Fontsmith
Release Date: November 2018

Back Story: Why not challenge the accepted design wisdom that simple, unadorned typefaces—i.e. geometric sans serifs—are the most legible and suitable choices for text on screen? Fontsmith did just that by introducing three new serif fonts, FS Ostro, FS Kim, and FS Neruda. Not incidentally, all three typefaces are also perfectly lovely when used in print as well.

Fontsmith founder Jason Smith says, “Screens are so much better these days and audiences more educated; you don’t have to dumb down fonts. People want to read things properly, to see (and importantly, feel) something different … we’re moving away from geometric monoline styles because you can be more expressive in some cases with serifs. It’s our job as type designers to look at what’s happening in music, fashion, car design, art, and architecture, because all those things inform us as visual designers.”

How did each font get its name? The Ostro is a wind that blows in Italy from the South into the Mediterranean Sea. Designer Alessia Mazzarella liked that the word Ostro relates to her Southern Italian roots and reflects the energetic, flowing quality of the typeface. FS Kim, which can be both a female and a male name, was chosen by its designer Krista Radoeva as a perfect fit for the typeface’s contradictory nature. FS Neruda has perhaps the most lyrical namesake in Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet and politician. “Neruda’s poetry is evocative and savory—the way he tailors verses and uses language is really beautiful,” says designer Pedro Arilla. “FS Neruda brings a fresh, suave, and sharp typographic aroma to the beauty of words.”

What are their distinguishing characteristics? FS Ostro is a contrasty Modern; FS Kim, a fashion-influenced showstopper; and FS Neruda, a quirky Sabon-inspired old-style. They vary considerably in look, but all hew to the intent to give designers fresh typefaces for screens that will allow them to break out of the sans-serif rut. FS Ostro’s well-rounded and generously spaced letters combine stark, structured elements such as chamfered serifs with vivacious curves. Its italics really push the voluptuousness of the curves, and the display weight boasts increased detail in its exaggerated features. FS Ostro also offers a set of borders and modular elements for building lush ornamental frames, boxes, and borders. FS Kim is a dramatic diva combining wedge serifs, angled strokes, and crisp terminals for a sharp look with a subtle softness, thanks to the letterforms’ generous curves thrown in here and there. FS Neruda was designed to feel ultra comfortable for readers of texts such as novels and poetry, meaning it has a genteel, yet open feeling. It’s also a space-saver that fits more characters on each line than the typefaces such as Times, Sabon and Baskerville that inspired it, while maintaining excellent readability.

What should I use them for? FS Ostro is excellent for dense or complex typesetting; its design lends a pleasing texture to blocks of text, courtesy of carefully balanced italics, weights, and width variations. For a brand or project looking to stand out and make a forceful statement, FS Kim’s especially exuberant personality is well-suited to any text dealing with fashion and style. FS Neruda practically begs to be used for typesetting good literature and beautiful texts, be they graceful poetry or honest journalism.

What other typefaces do you like to pair these with? FS Ostro goes well with rounded sans-serifs with very little contrast, such as FS Elliot. If you want to try a bit more playful approach, test-drive it with FS Pimlico. FS Kim harmonizes nicely with FS Koopman, a functional modern sans, in a pairing that provides both contrast and hierarchy. Krista Radoeva says, “Koopman’s proportions and curvature, as well as its double-story ‘a’ and ‘g’, match those features of FS Kim, so there is a good balance between differences and similarities of the two typefaces.” And the final word goes to Pedro Arilla, who says, “FS Neruda is a kind typeface, so it can team up with almost anyone. Personally, I would like to see it in use with FS Industrie or FS Irwin because they complement FS Neruda’s features and empower them in a beautiful way.”