Great Pairs

Malabar & Borgstrand

June 30, 2016 by
David Sudweeks
David Sudweeks

Today we take a look at Dan Reynolds’s Malabar paired with Martin Lexelius’s Borgstrand. Malabar is a stunning Renaissance Roman, brought up in the Dutch tradition and made to fill today’s specific needs. Borgstrand is an engineer’s answer to the question “What might a set of sturdy letters look like?”

Of course there’s more to it that plain engineering. Borgstrand’s forms have a deliberate insensitivity to them that requires a type designer’s touch. This heavy-handedness makes it the perfect foil for Malabar’s energetic and sophisticated texture. One of the first things you notice about Malabar is its huge x-height. The face delivers a result that appears larger than competing text faces set at the same size, because it makes such a point of filling its allotted space. This also serves another function common to editorial work — bits set in all caps, such as acronyms, or even lining figures, don’t appear so jarring in text. Rather than span a huge range of weights, Malabar makes a few decisions for you, and extends to an alluring Heavy weight, which works nicely at large sizes. Borgstrand comes in four caps-only variants, each with a few alternates in its lowercase glyph section. The OpenType case feature activates all of its more normal forms, a peaked A, an M and N with diagonal strokes, etc., and applies looser spacing throughout.

Together, these really fit the conventional roles of dominant sans and dutiful serif, but either one is also strong enough to pick up the opposite part and play it well.

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