Back story: Nara Sans is a fresh new companion to Nara (first called Adriq), Czech designer Andrej Krátky’s late-1980s project begun while he was a student at the Prague Academy of Applied Arts. Nara was 20 years in the making, from converting the original drawings to bézier curves, finalizing the character set, and most importantly, refining details and adding the advanced OpenType features of a 21st century font. Nara Sans, the next generation, has an economical visual style meant to feel more contemporary with a wider range of potential uses.
Why’s it called Nara Sans? To keep the names all in the family.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Nara Sans follows Nara’s humanist calligraphy and basic structure, yet has an atypically crisp look for a humanist sans despite its somewhat soft and gentle demeanor. The font contains both a cursive and an italic style with pronounced calligraphic features and terminals, adding plenty of options for designers to explore complex typographic hierarchies. Nara Sans Cursive pairs the upright uppercase letters with a much narrower lowercase—an unusual feature inspired by early Aldine italics, which limits uppercase letters to roman capitals used at the beginning of the sentences. Nara Sans has the option to be a little bit italic: the Cursive weight, less oblique in comparison to the Italic, is a fascinating half-step between roman and italic.
What should I use it for? The more restrained roman versions work for long text settings as well as display, while the cursive and italic styles have plenty of assertive character, especially in the heavier weights, adding variety within a unified family. The letterforms’ combination of sharp angles and rounded curves feels disruptive yet somehow well-behaved, making Nara Sans a good match for the print and digital needs of contemporary cultural or educational institutions seeking a little flair in their branding without getting too crazy.
What other typefaces should I pair it with? Of course it works well with Nara (no surprise there), but if you really want to shake things up, experiment with Bell Gothic, which has some similar letter shapes, or mix in Neuland’s abrupt angles and dense forms for contrast in headlines.