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Typeface Review


Reviewed by Marian Bantjes on March 11, 2014

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.


  1. Thanks for the kind words, Marian!

    Interesting point about Islamic script. I am very unfamiliar with that, so the similarity would indeed have been coincidental. Civilité is just gorgeous, thanks for pointing that out!

    To celebrate, I’m offering a 25% rebate on Maestrale for a week (until March 19).

  2. Dr Nancy Nicholson says:

    The only thing I would add to the review is that with as many flowing elements this font has, it is (to me) a perfect balance of design and readability. This is an uncommon feature of font design and Thalmann is justly proud!

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Typographica is a review of typefaces and type books, with occasional commentary on fonts and typographic design. Edited by Stephen Coles with Caren Litherland and designed by Chris Hamamoto. Founded in 2002 by Joshua Lurie-Terrell. Relaunched in 2009 by Coles and Hamamoto.

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