Typeface Review

Trio Grotesk

Reviewed by Mark Simonson on March 13, 2013

I’m a sucker for certain old typeface and lettering styles (big surprise). There is something charming about the straightforward letter drawing practiced by earlier generations when what was called for was a “plain” style. There was a correct way to draw such letters: Simple skeletons with a minimum of style.

When they were freshly made, they probably did look very plain. But lack of style is an illusion. There’s no getting away from it. Tastes change and, as time passes, what was once seen as neutral becomes pegged to a particular moment in time and takes on the patina of history.

Trio Grotesk is Florian Schick’s revival of Kaart Antieke (1909), a face that I’m sure was intended as a plain type to be used for very ordinary purposes. Its wide proportions and generous spacing would make it a good choice for small sizes. The caps remind me of American faces like Sackers Gothic and Copperplate Gothic, but the lowercase letters have more of a European feel, reminiscent of the typefaces of Jakob Erbar and the tiny lettering on old cameras and watches.

With the inclusion of useful features like small caps, dingbats, and different figure styles, it looks like it would be fun font family to use. As a type designer, I don’t get to use fonts as much as I used to. Trio Grotesk makes me wish I were still an art director.

Mark Simonson of Saint Paul, Minnesota, is a former art director and graphic designer who now makes his living designing typefaces — several of which are Typographica selections.


  1. I think Trio is a very professional and refreshing take on a historical alphabet. One of my favourites.

  2. Elmtree says:

    A really nice piece of work, both original and revival. Given how popular rounded fonts are at the moment having one that doesn’t follow a standard model is a well-timed arrival.

    It feels rather Moonrise Kingdom, all healthy and outdoorsy — you imagine it advertising milk. It just has so much character — comparing to Gotham Rounded, which at first sight is pretty similar, everything just looks a bit more enthusiastic and bouncy. I’ll certainly be looking for somewhere to use it in future. No italics, but in a display font that’s not a major problem.

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