Maestrale is the prettiest font I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m a bit picky about what constitutes “pretty”.
What makes Maestrale good is the flow of its letterforms and the attention to fit and relationship between pairs. I’m not talking about kerning — I’m talking about curve direction and arc. Most fonts considered fancy or pretty tend to loop here and there without a care in the world — not a good thing, in my opinion. Maestrale’s extensive swashes and alternates flow like water, both forward and back, and create a harmonious relationship that gives the font a consistent elegance. A witness to the designer’s intent is in the ‘and’ glyph, which shows the whip of the d’s ascender meet in perfect alignment with the angle of the a’s stem. Convivial relationships like this keep showing up.
But as well, Maestrale mixes these swaying extensions with a surprisingly conservative base which, when set right, creates a juxtaposition of forms that is wholly unique. While I don’t believe it was intended to be, Maestrale is the most successful combination of roman characters and Islamic script that I’ve ever seen, giving it a distinctly contemporary Middle Eastern feel.
It works beautifully set as text, with an air of a civilité to it. And I applaud the decision to use a small cap height (or would that be large x-height?), which allows the capitals to assert their conservatism without interrupting the stream.
In short: I’m envious, and that is my highest compliment.
Marian Bantjes is a designer, typographer, writer and illustrator working internationally from her base on a small island off the west coast of Canada, near Vancouver.