A versatile sans serif
At its core essence Stella is a typeface constructed from simple shapes. There is nothing spectacular or trendy in its carefully balanced characters, not now in its expanded form, nor when it was originally designed as a humble four-weight family in 1999. The idea behind Stella was to create a sans serif possessing some of the humanist characteristics of classic serif text faces. This meant Stella could be paired with some of our favourite text faces of the time, as most of them lacked a sans serif counterpart. This proved particularly useful for setting bilingual texts, something we were doing quite frequently back in the 90s. Stella’s first use was in Surf Portugal, a magazine we art directed for almost eight years.
Because Stella is drawn according to classical proportions, its capitals show great variations in width. The rather condensed lowercase letters have a generous x-height and open apertures. The overall contrast is moderate. The italics follow the model of classic serif faces. Instead of possessing slanted roman forms, Stella has ‘true’ italics with a structure informed by cursive writing, narrower and slightly lighter in colour.
Stella was initially produced in two weights with matching italics, and released in PostScript format. The typeface was completely overhauled in 2010, and is now a sprawling OpenType family in eight weights from a delicate Extralight to a dark Heavy, with matching true italics and small caps for all styles. Stella offers extensive language support for Latin-based languages, and has all the necessary figure sets: it comes with proportional lining numerals as a default, but also offers proportional oldstyle ones as well as tabular figures in both lining and oldstyle variants, fractions, superiors and inferiors, plus a selection of arrows and other useful glyphs.