Courtesy Toshi Omagari.

Name: Platia
Designer: Toshi Omagari
Foundry: Omega Type Foundry
Release date: December 2021

Back Story: Omagari has a long-standing fondness for the Hellenic Wide genre of typefaces (especially those seen in antique ephemera such as booklets, maps, and tickets). Hellenic Wide is a subcategory of wide, low-contrast 19th-century slab serif typefaces, originally available from several foundries under a variety of names: Antique Extended, Ionic Expanded, and Breite Jonisch (Wide Ionic in German). The designer says, “It’s nothing special on paper—a slab serif on a Scotch Roman skeleton—but its monolinear strokes and generous width have a unique presence.” He wanted to make his own version to correct a few troublesome details—a too-short tail on the R, letters such as A and M that appeared too small, and the poorly-curved lowercase with excessive contrast—to enhance the typeface’s overall elegance.

“The design process was fairly straightforward for the capitals, but slightly less so for the lowercase; those stroke thicknesses were generally too contrasted and looked out of place. I wanted to make both cases more harmonized and monolinear than the historical versions,” says Omagari. “The real challenge came in the darker weights when there was not enough space within x-height to maintain the same stroke thickness. In those cases like Ultrabold k, the inside strokes became thinner, giving the sense of reverse stress.”

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Platia follows the Scotch Roman letter structure, ubiquitous in the 19th century. Compared to the historical models, Omagari’s own twists include more curves and a unified variety of stroke endings to a curl and serif as seen here:

Top: a typical Hellenic Wide. Bottom: Platia’s refined characters. Courtesy Toshi Omagari.

The light rounding unifies the details even further, while adding a soft letterpress feel. The typeface’s Greek and Cyrillic versions also embrace the curly quality of the Latin family.

The designer kept the traditional Hellenic Wide’s luxurious use of space but didn’t care for the way its uneven spacing sometimes seems overly exaggerated. To refine the letterspacing, he added contextual alternates with shorter serifs:

Courtesy Toshi Omagari.

What should I use it for? Omagari says, “It’s useful for display purposes, especially those with generous text width or short text length. It works nicely on film and TV screens too; I personally like to use it for presentations.”

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Platia automatically steps up for titling and display. “Find a body text face that matches at least one of Platia’s key features: Victorian root, soft details, monolinear, open spacing,” says Omagari. “Klim’s Founders Grotesk Text is a great match because it comes from the same historical era. From my library, I like Codelia which matches Platia’s soft character and open spacing typical of monospaced metrics.”