Fuerte Type’s striking serif Sakral finds a home between medieval imagery and modern technicality
Having previously collaborated with the likes of Colophon Foundry and Typotheque, independent type design studio Fuerte Type, based between Dubai and Colonia, are determined to craft typefaces that are striking as they are rigorous. To that end, their serif release, Sakral, is no exception to the rule. Gothic, sharp and enticing, Sakral’s distinct construction doesn’t fall far from its medieval inspiration, having initially found its influence in 2018 when Fuerte’s director, Fermín Guerrero, admired the elongated serifs of hand-rendered, archaic signs in Zurich’s old town. The location of which, rife with churches and religious imagery, also inspired Sakral’s name – which is the German word for ‘Sacred.’
Having opted for an approach equally analogue to the old town’s signs, Guerrero tells us, “the brush is the tool I’m less familiar with and this was precisely the tool used to produce the lettering that sparked Sakral.” Taking time to study the vintage inscriptions to better understand their unique contrast, modulation and features. “A problem was figuring out how to then treat those attributes to work in a very different context,” Guerrero expands, determined to figure out how to maintain a balance of the analogue and organic while providing the level of consistency required in contemporary type design.
“Some of the features found in the lettering,” he continues, giving the extremely elongated serifs and high letter-width contrast as examples, “had to be tuned down and harmonised to avoid letters clashing and to create a pleasing rhythm,” finely tuning these contrary elements in order not to lose the character of the typeface. “I concluded that the notion of being handpainted could be injected in the design without the need of creating the letters with a brush,” Guerrero explains, “as my intention was not to make a strict interpretation of those letters, but rather use them as a starting point.”
The result of these inspirations is a striking tension between modern technicality and medieval imagery, finding an idiosyncratic, playful home between the two – available in four weights with corresponding italic cuts. With Sakral’s weights ranging from Regular to Black, Guerrero explains the reasoning behind their being no styles lighter than Regular. “I actually did not decide to not make a light or thin,” he details, “what I did decide was to not make a lighter extreme from the start,” having not started the design with a defined idea of its end result. “The priority for me is always to get the conceptual foundations of the design right,” Guerrero remarks, hence the small scope of the typeface, “this allows me to stay focused on the concept,” an emphasis in line with the explorative founding of Fuerte.
With a text version of Sakral, optimised for long-form body text, in the works, the typeface’s future looks to explore the potential of expressive letterforms further. Looking back on the typeface as it stands, however, Guerrero is content with its eccentricities. “There are several things that I believe make Sakral unique,” he recalls, “one would be its highly dynamic and energetic nature as a result of its flare,” Guerrero details, “and the rhythm and texture (at a word level) thanks to its high letter-width contrast.” Moreover, we’d add, the unexpected, dynamic shapes of its extended serifs and details. “All of this provides Sakral with a strong personality that can help light up a text or page,” Guerrero concludes, “if I had to select the one letter that best captures these characteristics, it would probably be the capital ‘S.’”