Back Story: At the beginning of 2016, Paris-based design studio Black[Foundry] began collaborating with Copenhagen foundry PlayType on various projects, from design to engineering. While Hornus was sketching out the poster weight of Vesterbro, he was inspired by the Danish design team’s bold approach to serif faces, especially in the heaviest weights like Extrabold and Black. The development of Vesterbro’s Cyrillic version introduced new challenges, and solving them impacted the shapes of the Latin letterforms as well. For example, the original teardrop-shaped terminals were sharpened because they just felt off in Cyrillic.
Why’s it called Vesterbro? PlayType’s office is located in the Vesterbro neighborhood where the old Western Gate of Copenhagen once stood, and the designers felt the name was a good fit for the Scandinavian spirit of the typeface.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? The design, inspired by Scotch Roman and Garalde typefaces, features an oblique contrast axis as is typical in Old Style alphabets. Overall the letterforms in the Poster weight feel warmer than other Didot-inspired display faces thanks to friendly, organic shapes, a generous x-height, and short serifs. Vesterbro’s hybrid qualities don’t get in the way of traditional considerations for its text weight (such as more pronounced serifs and lower stroke contrast) meant to ensure legibility. The terminals on the lowercase ‘a,’ ‘c,’ and ‘f’ are noticeably calligraphic; they look like foxtails—or in keeping with the Nordic theme of the typeface’s name, like the horns on Viking helmets.
What should I use it for? Vesterbro is a versatile type family to use for any design project, from editorial design and graphic identities to advertising, branding, and packaging. Its super-heavy poster weight is dynamite for headlines or packaging. Thanks to the multinational team at Black[Foundry], the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets were added early in the typeface’s development and the character set includes several types of numerals, extensive ligature options, and a full quiver’s worth of arrows.
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? “We’re working on Vesterbro Sans.” says Hornus.“It will offer the same range of weights (from Poster to Light) plus harmonized proportions and shapes so that it will become the perfect companion to Vesterbro. We also hope to introduce italic versions this fall as well.” In the meantime, Vesterbro Text pairs successfully with Dragon, a geometric sans, and Vesterbro Poster looks good with Respublika FY.