JUNO and Lineto’s collaborative identity for Munken includes free access to their new custom typeface
Swedish paper mill Munken, founded in 1871, is known internationally for its high-quality papers produced in Munkedal, Sweden. With the mill being surrounded by nature reserves, fjords and rivers; the immediate access to nature has rubbed off on the production, being one of the world’s most environmentally friendly paper mills. To underline the future direction of the brand, Munken approached German branding agency JUNO for a rethink of its identity. The result is a multi-faceted and fascinating brand, alongside a new collaborative creative platform, a comprehensive physical handbook and custom typeface, Munken Sans, crafted in collaboration with Zurich-based type foundry, Lineto.
Contextualising the rebrand, JUNO explains that “over several decades Munken has built an international reputation as a dependable paper brand in harmony with nature,” and is always there to support fresh visions and exciting creative projects. To this end, JUNO aim for Munken’s fresh identity was “to underline its premium quality, Swedish heritage and its design brand character,” without losing the spirit it has cultivated over the centuries.
The rebrand began with the Munken CoLab, a creative and collaborative initiative with the intention to nurture partnerships across the creative industry in order to produce new thoughtful and inventive concepts – citing engagement, diversity and collaboration as the roots of creativity, as well as core to Munken’s philosophy. “The brand Munken has always been about nature, design and creativity,” JUNO tells us, explaining the pioneering environmental spirit Munken has forever maintained “when it comes to nature protection.” With this in mind, “to continue bringing nature and paper in a sound balance, Munken wants to create new solutions with the aid of creatives from different fields,” JUNO recalls, expounding that the Munken CoLab’s future endeavours are to “develop new and sustainable solutions in the areas of paper, publishing and design.”
The maiden collaboration of the Munken CoLab was with Laurenz Brunner, Selina Bernet, Jonas Williamsson and Cornel Windlin from Lineto Type Foundry, in which they developed, alongside JUNO, the sophisticated core of Munken’s new identity – Munken Sans.
Inspired by Kåge Gustafson’s Tratex, the typeface found on Swedish road signs developed in the 1960s, Laurenz Brunner recollects “I’ve had a fascination with road signage for as long as I can remember,” further explaining that “the former Swiss traffic type by the ‘Schweizerische Normen-Vereinigung’, was an early inspiration as a student learning to draw fonts.” Eternally interested in “their ability to balance raw formal details from the mechanics of their creation,” Brunner explains that “conceptualising and creating a contemporary version of ‘Tratex’ has been an exciting challenge to both honour the original and update it for use both on and off the road.”
Although at first glance the relation between a paper mill and road signs might seem disparate, Annika Bolt-Hansen from Munken tells us that “the interest in the previously untold history/story of the Swedish traffic type Tratex and the connection to Munken brought creatives from different areas together. If you walk around the scenic village of Munkedal you realise that the road signs are part of the visual language of the place.” Noting that the resulting collaboration shows exactly what Munken stands for. Progressing and sustaining the theme of collaboration, Munken Sans is freely downloadable, and not simply a brand font. With a fully weighted family of Regular, Medium and Bold – a timely development from its single weight predecessor and inspiration Tratex – Munken Sans is also a pillar reflecting Munken’s dedication to progression, now fully optimised for both print and digital.
The elegant typeface is immediately timeless, harkening back to the workhorses of modernist Swiss type design whilst still feeling contemporary and comfortably sitting at the face of a progressive, creative company. Within the fresh identity for Munken is a new logotype, classically paired with the characterful icon of a monk, referencing both the Swedish word ‘munk’ meaning ‘monk,’ as well as the traditional Swedish village, Munkedal, the mill resides in. The result is a wordmark that is both slick and personable, providing a strong sense of intention and clarity whilst being flexible in its extended brand application, including the new Munken Handbook.
The 448-page publication follows the artistic tradition of letterpress publishing, wedding both Munken’s new Design Range of papers and Munken Sans. In doing so, the Munken Handbook becomes a platform to express the breadth of the brand identity, the quality of Munken’s paper range as well as tactilely engage with creatives in the hope of future collaboration – internally focusing on three primary themes of innovation, connection to nature and Tratex’s heritage. Realising the “picturesque expressiveness of the font,” JUNO playfully designed the handbook to really exhibit how beautifully and diversely the Munken paper range could house one’s work and take the opportunity to push the limits of Munken Sans; resulting in a refined and expressive product that manifests as both a utilitarian, tactile tool and an artistic object. In the latter, thereby lies the beauty of Munken Sans; a typeface compelling and considerate enough for both expressive and functional applications. As of October 1st, Munken is offering the creative community free access to Munken Sans, consistent with their ambition of a collaborative creative process.