Have you ever imagined what a modern serif with massive triangle-shaped serifs instead of the usual hairline ones would look like? And what if the uppercases got smaller and the extenders were minimised at the same time? How big a narrowing can a serif type handle but still retain its character and legibility? Vojtěch Říha asked himself all of these questions and answered them with the extensive Steiner family. A contemporary serif, German-like in strictness and precision, but still retaining originality in its shapes.
Sudeten German Anton Steiner (*20 May 1855 – † 17 June 1920), buried in a cemetery near Karlovy Vary. The lettering on his gravestone served as the basis for a majestic display type, in which static and dynamic principles are in symbiotic opposition. A vertical shadow axis and heavy, triangle-shaped serifs anchor the letters firmly on the baseline, with serif diagonals accentuating the inner dynamics of the whole typeface. Distinctive lowercase bulbous terminals disrupt the seemingly strict triangular principle dominant in the uppercases. Deep incisions in the outstrokes to stem connections create a pleasing contrast and help cast away a slight weariness typical of Classicist Didot types. Six weights with increasing contrast form a palette of options one doesn’t get bored with easily; the seventh version, simply titled Headline, is a shadowed version of the Black style and is most appropriate for death certificates and various manifests with no expiry date.
One of the greatest pleasures in a typographer’s life is having nice italics. Each weight of Steiner contains a dynamic italic, which compensates for a lack of distinctive slant with a visible change of accentuation. Romantic moods are evoked by softly arched curves, bulbous terminals alternate with pointed instrokes and outstrokes, asymmetrical characters lend the text a feral character. The rippling of the italics as a counterpoint to tectonically upright styles works perfectly.
The Steiner family was originally part of a collection of fonts inspired by gravestone inscriptions, which Vojtěch Říha designed during the course of his studies at the Type Design studio of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. Vojta designed a set of three type families: Frieden, Wagner and Steiner, which are based on Sudetenland gravestone inscriptions traced onto paper using the frottage technique. Each represent a different font category – Sans Serif, Grotesque and Antiqua. All three typefaces have their strokes adjusted to correspond to real stone-chiselled inscriptions. Each typeface has well thought out shapes of difficult strokes, such as crossings, instrokes, bottoms or extended and condensed ellipses. Vojta Říha verified his font during a stone sculpturing workshop in Hořice, organized by Type Design studio, where he chiselled the Steiner Bold and the thinnest Wagner Light faces into the stone without impairing the letters. Vojta sais: “Steiner is pure masturbation on the subject of the old Sudetenland gravestone typography, which I enjoy finding. Steiner draws not only from one single gravestone inscription, but from gravestone aesthetics in general, and also from Germany.”
Steiner is a blessing for all designers of newspaper and magazine, as it can magically conjure up a dramatic buzz even when substance is lacking. But a quality, contemporary typeface in seven weights with seven italics will always find its application – no clever type foundry recommendation will ever replace the designer’s own sense of invention.
Frottage for the Steiner typeface. Vojtěch Říha created a series of frottages, which served as his inspiration for the search for the ideal accidence for a new typeface; 2011.
Vojta sais: “Steiner is pure masturbation on the subject of the typography of old Sudetenland gravestones, which I enjoy finding. Steiner draws not only from a single gravestone sign, but from gravestone aesthetics in general and also from Germany.”
The Steiner family was originally part of a collection of fonts inspired by gravestone inscriptions. The lettering on a gravestone of Sudeten German Anton Steiner (*20 May 1855 – ? 17 June 1920) served as the basis for a majestic display type, in which static and dynamic principles are in symbiotic opposition.
A poster with the theme of Hořice; two colour silkscreen. Designed by Vojtěch Říha, Steiner font; 2012.
Design: Vojtěch Říha
Number of fonts in a family: 14 (Light, Light Italic, Regular, Italic, Medium, Medium Italic, Semibold, Semibold Italic, Bold, Bold Italic, Black, Black Italic, Headline, Headline Italic)
Number of glyphs per font: 493
Release date: 2014
Proportional Figures (pnum)
Contextual Alternates (calt)
Stylistic Sets (salt ss01 – ss08)
Slashed Zero (zero)
Old Style Numerals (onum)
Localized Forms (locl)
Case Sensitive Forms (case)