The Brand Identity

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Dalton Maag’s Monte Stella typeface pays tribute to the vernacular of post-WW2 Milan

In the decades after World War II, the city of Milan injected a new aesthetic into the world. A design movement emerged from the industrial boom of the 60s and 70s, gaining international recognition thanks to designers like Bob Noorda, Ettore Sottsass and Gio Ponti. This Milanese design elite produced revolutionary ads, objects and buildings by taking advantage of the latest technical and industrial developments. But it also inspired local craftsman, who took this new aesthetic and applied it to the city’s small family-run businesses, adding beauty to the ‘other’ part of Milan.

Monte Stella, a typeface designed and released by international font foundry Dalton Maag, is a tribute to the aesthetics of this ‘other’ Milan. Creative Director Riccardo De Franceschi grew up in the early 90s observing his father’s expert craft in his wood carving workshop in East Milan, often in a cloud of sawdust. The letters of Monte Stella are directly inspired by the vernacular of the visual landscape that he knows so well, from shop window stickers to commercial signage.

“Imagine a shoemaker or a car mechanic making their own sign. Typography is not their native territory, so they will feel slightly uncomfortable and try to make their own life easy,” adds De Franceschi.

The typeface is available in six weights, plus a variable font. In the heavier weights, the width also increases, while the white space and counter shapes become more emphasised. As well as a regular italic style, each weight is accompanied by a ‘turbo’ italic style. It’s 20° slant instead of the traditional 12° captures to the typeface’s intentionally imperfect and unusual nature. Its constructed, modular letterforms give an economical use of space and a tight, vertical rhythm. Low contrast improves legibility at small sizes and enhances versatility.

Despite its roots in a specific time and place, Monte Stella, named after a post-WW2 artificial hill in West Milan’s San Siro neighbourhood, is designed to support the typographic challenges of today. It’s 18 styles make it versatile enough for a range of contrasting uses, from book covers and online sub-headings to football shirts and shop signage.

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