Courtesy Production Type.

Name: Stratos
Designer: Yoann Minet, with art direction by Emmanuel Labard
Foundry: Production Type
Release Date: February 2016. Cyrillic by Ilya Ruderman & Yury Ostromentsky released in 2017, and Greek by Irene Vlachou released in 2018.

Back Story: Emmanuel Labard, a graphic designer at Parisian studio l’Atelier Collectif, began collaborating with Yoann Minet in 2014 on a custom typeface for an exhibition entitled Filming the War: the Soviets and the Holocaust (1941–1946). Working with a limited budget and compressed time frame, they initially designed just a single style, what Labard called a “sausage typeface,” with distinct rounded terminals. Minet kept going until he hit upon the idea of creating a sans serif featuring condensed capitals alongside normal geometric lowercase letterforms, to provide different hierarchic levels and tones with a single typeface. The designers added Cyrillic and then Greek characters in the years following, leading to a 2017 Type Directors Club award for the typeface family.

Why’s it called Stratos? Labard came to the project fresh off a vacation on the Grecian island of Tinos, where he rented a tiny house from a memorable local character nicknamed Stratos. When he proposed naming their new typeface after his holiday landlord, Minet liked the fact that it was close to words like stratum/strata and stratosphere, echoing the fact that the typeface has many different visual layers baked in to its design.

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Stratos is a family that rethinks concepts of weight and width within a single style. The first and most obvious of these surprises can be seen in the difference between its upper- and lowercase: the condensed caps are inspired by gothic wood type of the 20th century, while the minuscules are akin to certain classic geometric sans serifs. Stratos is multiplexed—each of the family’s ten weights share a common width—so a line set in Black occupies no more space than one set in Thin.

What should I use it for? From logotypes and branding to packaging, signage, book or magazine design, the designers created Stratos as a workhorse for all design uses. “We’re still amazed by the way each person uses it,” says Quentin Schmerber, a designer at Production Type. “It looks very different depending on the weight.”

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Stratos was teamed up with Minotaur in the catalog for the Filming the War exhibition, but is so versatile that it can be matched nicely with almost every typeface in Production Type’s catalog. For a crisp serif pairing, try the Cardinal collection. Or take a look at Enfantine for a loopy, scripty kick.