Name: Whyte and Whyte Inktrap
Designers: Johannes Breyer, Fabian Harb, and Erkin Karamemet
Release Date: March 2019
Back Story: Dinamo’s Fabian Harb drew the first version of Whyte years ago, based upon an early Grotesk type sample. Since then it’s made a few public appearances in small-scale cultural publications, but the designers weren’t quite finished with the project. “The typeface aged so gracefully, we felt it was time to give the existing shapes another push,” says Breyer. The task fell to lead designer Erkin Karamemet (with Harb and Breyer in supporting roles) to “refine and extend the initial version of Whyte and explore possibilities within its DNA.”
Why’s it called Whyte + Whyte Inktrap? The designers found their initial inspiration from a font in a 19th-century catalog from Elihu White’s New York type foundry. In the resulting typefaces, Whyte’s smooth, sharp transitions between strokes contrast with Whyte Inktrap’s deep cuts at the joints.
Wait: Ink traps? Who needs those anymore? In this case, it’s an evolution of technological adaptations from the past. Ink traps in hot- and cold-metal type families of yesteryear allowed excess ink on press to fill in deliberately designed gaps to complete the characters, rather than spreading out into the paper and blurring the letter shapes. Oddly enough, a similar phenomenon happens on device screens, where “light blur” has a similar effect on letterforms. Ink traps—which, in this context, are really pixel traps—can keep type looking its best by bridging the gap between print and digital environments, reinforcing every letter shape on screens as well as in print.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? The uppercase “G” and the double-story lowercase “g” with its flattened bottom curve are especially distinctive. Whyte Inktrap’s exaggerated cuts add a staccato visual rhythm, standing out as a noticeable design feature, not merely a practical adaptation. Both families consist of 10 weights with corresponding italics, plus international punctuation, currency signs, and bonus glyphs. A variable font version of Whyte is due for release in April as a flexible tool to merge both families and allow users to seamlessly slide from one extreme to the other.
What should I use it for? “We’re curious to see the interactive web applications that the variable font version of Whyte might inspire,” says Harb. “And how designers will make use of the scalable Inktraps characters—to maintain sharp printing quality or simply for their beauty?” In other words: use it for pretty much anything.
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Like fraternal twins who are each other’s BFFs, Whyte is best paired with Whyte Inktrap and vice-versa.