Motorik is a comprehensive neo-grotesk typeface that gravitates toward systematic consistency and alignments. Vertical metrics are shared across all styles; the family’s weights are distributed at regular intervals, and the slanted romans match exactly the set width of their upright counterparts. Motorik’s static, closed-off construction results in small apertures and mirror symmetry, with regularized widths and consistent detailing.

Walter Käch, a Swiss designer and teacher at the Zürich Kunstgewerbeschule, first formulated the principles underlying the neo-grotesk in his trilingual compendium Schriften Lettering Écritures from 1949. In this manual, Käch revisited the grotesks from the late 1800s that had found recent popularity among Swiss graphic designers. Käch systematically filtered his hand-drawn sans serif alphabets through the modernist grid, each decision grounded in logical reasoning and historical precedent.

A mature typographic manifestation of these ideas first appeared in the work of Käch’s student, the Swiss-born designer Adrian Frutiger. In Univers (1954–57), Frutiger implemented Käch’s principles in all variations of a typeface family – across width, weight, and posture. Arguably, it is this systematic ordering that constitutes the “new” in neo-grotesk, as its formal characteristics can all be found in previous models. Ironically, this definition excludes Helvetica, the most well-known example of the genre.

Motorik revisits the conception of the mature modernist sans-serif, the cultural climate it grew out of, and its instant ideological demise. It was designed by Frode Helland together with Inga Plönnigs and Wei Huang. The family covers a broad character set across five weights, with corresponding italics.

Designers: Frode Helland, Inga Plönnigs, Wei Huang
Released: 2024

Animation: Julie Jørstad
Text: Frode Helland
Editing: Caren Litherland
Language support
We offer active support for over 200 languages. Read more about our character set.