Back Story: Minérale got its start as custom lettering for the Musée du Château des Ducs de Wurtemberg, in Montbéliard (France). The show presented over 3,000 samples of the world’s minerals, useful in everything from laundry soap to tech manufacturing, and quite beautiful as well. Designer Thomas Huot-Marchand created Minérale’s angular yet fluid forms in honor of the variety of crystalline shapes on display. He tried something unusual on just a few characters at first: taking the vertical stems and crossing them in the center, exaggerating the geometrical flared serifs, and reducing them to two triangles connected by the tip. “It made the letters shine, and I liked the effect,” he says. So he decided to test it out on the entire alphabet.
“I chose to multiplex the whole family so I could release it as a variable font. It was very difficult to match all the widths and kerning—I cursed myself for having this idea.”
Why’s it called Minérale? The OCIM exhibition was called Splendeurs Minérales, so the name came quite easily.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Minérale is a geometric design based on the ways the letterform stems intersect. Letter widths are consistent, so the text never reflows, no matter which weight is selected. Although the construction and width remain the same across the families, the appearance shifts greatly from the Extra Light, which has a lapidary, chiseled look, and the Black, which has a marked horizontal stress due to the black triangles on the top and bottom of the letterforms.
The font has an exuberance in its thicker versions that contrasts sharply with the more sober feel of the thin weight, thanks to a tilted axis on the heavier strokes that brings Tuscan reverse-contrast silhouettes to mind. “I drew the upright weights multiplexed, with interpolation in mind,” says Huot-Marchand. “I designed the italics six months after the first release, and chose to multiplex the whole family so I could release it as a variable font. It was very difficult to match all the widths and kerning—I cursed myself for having this idea.”
What should I use it for? “Mainly for display, of course, even if some people use it as a text typeface,” says Huot-Marchand. There’s no controlling those crazy designers!
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Before its release, Huot-Marchand used it for the identity of L’Étincelle, a theater in Rouen, paired with Sandrine Nugue’s Infini, a typeface with similar abrupt angles published by the Centre National des Arts Plastiques in 2015.