Back Story: Dinamo’s type designer and engineer Rob Janes began working on Gravity as soon as he joined the team in Berlin (having moved there from Melbourne) three years ago to take control of the foundry’s tech and production work.
It all started out with Janes “coming down from his busy, tech-heavy day job by drawing compressed revivals at home, way past bedtime,” according to Dinamo. The team was interested in the way his sketches explored the idea of expanding beyond a compressed weight into many variable ones, and wanted to explore it further.
Describing Gravity as a “multi-width variable-monster,” Dinamo looked at a number of headline typefaces that were popular during the 1960s and ’70s, such as Information, Compacta, and Impact for inspiration.
Why’s it called Gravity? The name is a nod to the font’s ability to expand and stretch out “almost endlessly, as if being pulled around by differing weights of gravity,” says Dinamo. The foundry also tends to choose names for its fonts that show off their special characters—in this case, Gravity’s “Y.” (To help other designers name their fonts with similar considerations in mind, the team developed a tool called The Dinamo Name Crawler that lets designers come up with font names based on their favorite choice of characters.)
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Since it’s inspired by heavy grotesk typefaces from the 1960s and ’70s, Gravity is a chunky, no-nonsense sans serif. While it has those retro leanings, it also feels distinctly contemporary: Unlike its forbears such as Compacta, which was designed for Letraset, it’s not as “square” in appearance, since it’s designed to be allowed to compress and stretch to extreme widths and contractions.
“During the drawing process we consciously decided to avoid making Gravity feel too brutal, and so we went for a much softer exoskeleton,” says Janes. “This resulted in the Normal and Wide widths that feel quite cinematic instead of say, industrial.”
Gravity is packaged as one Variable Font file, which means that its form can be modulated seamlessly from XXXX Compressed to Wide. It’s also available as 12 separate font styles and has many stylistic alternatives, “which allow for playful settings and super-compact title arrangements,” says Dinamo. One unusual touch is a feature that means users can modify the position of characters by making them “jump” over the baseline or hang from the top.
What should it be used for? Thanks to its impactful, imposing forms, Gravity is ideal for the likes of movie titles, billboards, or posters. In more general terms, Dinamo says that it would be interested in seeing uses that explore the position features and that mix the various widths together. “It’s also well suited to digital spaces in search for an animated font that’s quick to capture eyes or that can change its width in response to the size of a device or browser,” Dinamo adds.
The foundry has already collaborated with Matter Of studio in Stuttgart on a project that sees Gravity packaged as an exercise resistance band that physically stretches out the letterforms. Uses and collaborations like that are part of the reason Dinamo chose to launch Gravity through its early access program, designed to stop its typefaces “from being ‘swallowed-up’ and contextualized too heavily by a handful of large projects on their own,” according to the foundry. “We ultimately want to give select projects the opportunity to use a typeface first, before it gets released publicly and starts its unpredictable journey!”
What other typefaces would it pair well with and why? Janes recommends pairing it with a serif, suggesting another variable Dinamo font, the “sans-to-serif superfamily” ABC Arizona. Dinamo also suggests Gravity would work well with its forthcoming serif ABC Gramercy.