Back Story: Inga Plönnigs first showed her typeface-in-progress to Tobias Frere-Jones during a guest critique in the spring of 2015, while she was getting her Master’s in type and media at the Royal Academy of Arts, the Hague. Impressed by what he saw, Frere-Jones got back in touch after Plönnigs graduated and, in collaboration with her and his studio partner Nina Stössinger, developed and published the typeface as a retail product.
“Nina and I thought of ourselves as editors,” Frere-Jones says. “It was important that we were not leaving our own stamp on this in some way; our job was to clarify. Our commentary was always about amplifying what Inga was going for and also, in a conversation about how to organize the family, make it into something that would make sense for customers.”
For her part, Plönnigs says that she didn’t have a clear picture in her head of what the typeface as a whole would look like, “but I knew I wanted it to have these very prominent notches that would interrupt the pattern created by the letter stems and complement the hairline strokes.” She adds that she also wanted it to be a very condensed shape. “I had a frame and I wanted to fill it as interestingly as possible.”
Why’s it called Magnet? At first, the designer tried to dream up a name starting with the letter A, because she liked that character so much. However, she soon realized that Magnet is a perfect showcase for some of the typeface’s most distinctive characters (the capital M, lowercase a, g, and e) all at once.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Steeply angled notches cut into the headline weight letters, giving them a strong forward movement and letting a little light into the powerful black shapes. The Standard version is full of surprise turns and quicksilver shifts in line weight, moving into territory all its own. (Check out the way the ear of the lowercase g points directly skyward!) Notches, alternate punctuation, and accents share the same line weight, creating a subtle visual harmony throughout the design.
What should I use it for? Magnet Headline adds a rich, assertive energy to headlines and display copy, while the Standard weight’s squared curves impart a quieter but still idiosyncratic force field to blocks of tightly leaded text.
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Magnet Headline and Standard, of course, are made for each other. Try Caslon Doric Condensed Light with Magnet Headline if you’re feeling bold enough to combine two sets of condensed character shapes. Pair Mislab with Magnet Standard for a sturdy serif display option.