The Scandinavians.... what are their prefered fonts?

Seba's picture

Google is my best friend, I know. But I had not much luck trying to find out what are the preferred fonts for the Scandinavians. I end up reading about Vikings or rotten shark delicacy. Perhaps my key words are not creative enough.

Every country has some preferred font that you would recognize it by. Like for example Germany is full of DIN family fonts. From railway stations to administration building, road signs or car number plates. Are there any typefaces that are very Denmark or Swedish ?

Thank you for taking the time to read it.
And appreciate your feedback



clauses's picture

Frutiger, Adobe Garamond. Custom faces based on the work of inter-war year Danish architects.

Aaron Thesing's picture

Typophile Stephen Coles has nice list of ‘underused’ Scandinavian typefaces in this Fonts In Use post. It touches on the idea of using very Swedish typefaces (Berling among others) for a magazine design. It is worth a read.

hrant's picture

What about these two?

Satura (in that Fonts In Use article) is amazing.


JoergGustafs's picture

I remember seeing some Scandinavian stuff from the early 20th century using German typefaces, Grotesks (Akzidenz, Venus, Block/Hermes etc.) and geometric Grotesks (Erbar, Futura), but in a quite unique way. I’m sorry I can’t remember where I’ve seen it. But you might find similar examples in corresponding Flickr Albums etc.

Also have a look at these:

Chris Dean's picture

@Seba: Is this work personal, professional or academic? If it is academic, where do you study, who are your faculty and what it the purpose of the project?

You will probably have to start with a broader search on Scandinavian design in general:

As well as Scandinavian graphic design history:

Looks like there are few really good books there. I’m confidant that your professor(s) would be able to direct you to a source for them. From there, you will be able to develop a greater sense of culture, history, politics and philosophy behind their work (including industrial, architectural &c). There should be more than enough material there to develop a sense of typographic flavour.

See also:

You will most likely need to narrow your research to a specific time period.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

The "ultra open Danish g" is very particular.

I just borrowed a book on Swedish "Dalmåleri" (Kurbits) featuring some pretty unique ornamented lettering. Haven’t seen any modern takes on this though.

Seba's picture

First of all, thank you so much everyone for taking the time to reply. Great links and very interesting read. I'm going through one by one as we speak. Once again, thank you.

@Christopher Dean
Must be my poor English comprehension that makes me sound so young :)
I'm close to my 40s, and this is just pure personal interest. I suspect you won't care much for the details, or a long read, so I try to make it quick.

Polish born, living in Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur for past 18 years. I'm a (reluctant to use the word here) "designer". I worked with Macromedia for many years, before it was absorbed by Adobe, and my specialty has been Flash design, an interactive content, since Flash's incarnation in 1996.

I don't usually deal with typography, as most of my clients are from automotive industry, and they have custom made, or certain standard typeface I'm provided with, along with guideline manuals on how to use it. I only put things together and make it interesting for the visitor to explore. But I love looking at text and I find it fascinating. I don't know whether you could call it a "gut feeling", but whenever I see text, I can tell whether it works on not. Perhaps some basic design taste and common sense? Recently I was part of a team working on Mercedes project under Swedish agency. I spent some time there, and while being so close, I stop by Denmark to say hello to my favorite pipe maker. I was amazed with some really great looking typefaces used all around town, from banks to public transport, signage etc... It's not a typeface I come across often, but many of them seem to be quite similar to each other. As if they follow some certain source and were built based on that.

Right now I'm doing some work for Malaysian property developer. Online application, mobile smart home (on/off air-con from your iPhone etc...) and website. Their branding designer is very local. Don't mean that in negative way, but given Malaysia is made of Malays (Muslims), Indians and Chinese, there is very strong tendency to use cursive fonts for everything. The Arabic, Tamil and Chinese influence, results in Papyrus, Comis Sans or Lucida being the primary choice. To the contrary, the developer aims at the young generation, and all his projects are very modern, minimalist, Scandinavian design inspired. Hence I find the use of Papyrus to be a really bad call, and I'm doing research, trying to find more suitable typeface for that kind of design he does, as substitute to what they have so far.
I couldn't stress enough how important is to hire professional to do that job, but the mentality in here is very different and branding is never on priority list. I feel guilty and obligated to help, to make best out of it and at least find something that doesn't read the property name in Papyrus :) The least I can do.

I would welcome very much your suggestions or links where I could read a little more about typeface suitable for this particular job.

Sorry for the long read, and again, thank you all so very much for such valuable input. Appreciate, and I do mean it.

regards from Papyrus, Comic Sans land...

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Off topic: Although I have a soft spot for Savinelli we do have a decent pipe maker in Bergen, Norway.

Té Rowan's picture

Most of it is in Norwegian (with an occasional summary in English), but has some interesting stuff.

bmorefixed's picture


That Danmark (A2 Type) typeface is really amazing.

Anthony Noel's picture

Interviews with Scandanavian type designers:

Steffan Hattenbach, Sweden.
Tomi Haaparanta, Finland.

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