I’m a sucker for ethereal super-light and in-your-face super-bold types; the extremes of the typographic spectrum sound a siren call to my inner rebel. Give me a hairline and an ultra black to play with, and I’m a happy camper. Vinter is one of those delicate creatures that satisfies my craving for ultra-fine letterforms.
Designed by Monokrom’s Frode Bo Helland, the Vinter expansion is a reworking of a single light weight and italic released in 2012. Now comprising five weights with companion italics, Vinter is a modulated sans serif built on a geometric skeleton. And “skeleton” is indeed the key word here. The lightest weight is so incredibly fine that it fades away in ghostlike fashion — just look at the dainty terminal on the ‘J’ — but the stroke contrast remains evident, keeping the face anchored in the real world.
Vinter is a wee bit schizophrenic. Its capitals are lovely but fairly straightforward, although letters such as the ‘R’, with its jauntily hyperextended leg, and the ‘M’, which looks like a spindly daddy longlegs, stand out with good cheer. These caps would look right at home on a high-end beauty website or etched on the frosted glass door of a fancy spa. The lowercase, on the other hand, is full of wit; as Vinter goes up in weight, its charms become plain in forms like ‘a’, ‘c’, and ’g’. The ‘i’, ‘j’, and punctuation sport delightful diamond-shaped dots, or tittles. Don’t you just love that? It’s so Goudy-esque. The figures are to die for — they’re bouncy and more than a little sassy.
Helland pulled off a sweet trick in pairing perfectly formed circles with severe angles in Vinter. His ‘O’, ‘G’, and similar forms maintain perfect integrity throughout all weights and in the italic variants. Although joins can look a bit odd in solo italic forms such as ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘p’, and ‘q’, the quirky connections play nicely when surrounded by their alphabetic brethren.
A word to the wise: Vinter is a display design. Its delicate nature and refined modulation require large settings and plenty of breathing room for optimal appearance.
I did say at the outset that Vinter makes me happy in a light and airy kind of way. But I’m still seeking the giddy joy derived from heart-poundingly heavy type. Perhaps Helland would indulge me and take Vinter over to the dark side. I would love to see what wonders he would work in shaping this design into a real heavyweight.
Tamye Riggs is a writer, editor, and designer hopelessly devoted to type and other wonderful things. Part of the typographically enchanted team at Type Network, she is also the Executive Director of the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI).