Off the beaten track

Sindre Bremnes’ Vestmar displays a subtility of craft rarely found among his peers. Carefully mediating black and white, curves and straights, he navigates the grey areas yet uncharted by established type design principles. Vestmar lends its stability from the constructed rational letterforms of modernist age. Still, the generous openings and horizontal terminals infuse an unexpected organic dynamism. The bulbous shapes inflate like a balloon enclosed in a container, swelling inwards against obstacles. This peculiar feature creates thick lines where thin are expected, asymmetry where symmetry is expected – and vice versa. Yet, where Vestmar diverges from the norm, it does so with care and caution. Bremnes never resorts to shouting – he simply delivers his typographic textures in a calm and consistent manner.

Evert Bloemsma and Roger Excoffon’s playful reverse-contrast experiments are important influences. Less obvious, Vestmar draws inspiration from various automotive sources: The 1965 road sign alphabet Trafikkalfabetet– a DIN Mittelschrift-interpretation by Norwegian engineer Karl Petter Sandbæk – forms the skeletal base alongside the eponymous signage types of Adrian Frutiger, the archetypal engineering type designer. The work of the Italian-turned-French car designer Walter Becchia is another key reference.

Vestmar expands the notion of an “engineered typeface”. Spoken by a designer, this phrase might imply a certain naïve simplistic geometry, thus disregarding the engineer’s vital role in drafting complex shapes. Consider the aerodynamic bodywork, track transition curves and banked turns that allow for effective high-speed transport. It is calculations like these that provide type designers with their raw material: the Bézier curve.

The Vestmar landscape is illustrated by Børge Bredenbekk.

After a quarter of a century living in Oslo, type designer Sindre Bremnes has returned to his deepest family roots. The typeface Vestmar is named after the southwestern part of Telemark. Vestmar comprises the two municipalities Kragerø and Drangedal and was recorded as a county as far back as the 8th century. The coastal town of Kragerø, known for its old-fashioned houses, narrow streets and traditional wooden boats, previously housed artists like Edvard Munch and Theodor Kittelsen. Now it also hosts one of Norway’s most innovative type designers.

Designer: Sindre Bremnes
Released: 2020
Format: OTF, WOFF, WOFF2
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