CR Blog

Is that your reversed-stress face?

Graphic Design, Type / Typography

Posted by Mark Sinclair, 13 August 2014, 16:36    Permalink    Comments (2)

Since 1998, Pentagram's Michael Bierut has been designing posters for the Yale School of Architecture's series of lectures and exhibitions. The school's autumn 2014 schedule has just been announced via this fine example, designed using the typeface Maelstrom...

Bierut and fellow Pentagram New York designer Jessica Svendsen decided to incorporate the Kris Sowersby-designed typeface into the new poster; its stacked letterforms adding an architectural quality to the design.

If the lettering appears, well, a little odd – it's no doubt because it's displayed in a 'reversed stress' face. What are usually thought of as the 'thick' strokes of the letters are rendered 'thin', and vice-versa.

According to the excellent post about the face on the Klim foundry's blog, Maelstrom "belongs to a genre that seems destined to be perpetually a typographic outsider-never really fashionable yet never fully abandoned." Its lineage includes fonts such as Caslon Italian and French Antique.


According to Pentagram, the designers "made some small modifications to the E and F to slightly improve legibility. The school's circular Y emblem also appears in Maelstrom."

Maelstrom is available from the Klim Type Foundry. More of Pentagram's Yale posters at


Kris, not Kim.
2014-08-13 21:44:28

Screw legibility. That was never the intended point with Maelstrom. In this instance I think cutting of a serif for the sake of legibility is sad. As it is a display face and was designed as such I think the type designer made the font to the best of his abillity. The original E and F are consistent with the rest of the characters while also remiainng true to the reverse stressed style heritage.
2014-08-22 13:29:00

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