Just Our Type: Dala Moa

The history of the Polleni typeface

Spots
Posted by Cat How, December 20, 2017

As type is hugely expressive, choosing the right one when creating a brand is extremely important. During the design phase of the Pollen Place and Polleni sister brands we found ourselves drawn over and over again to Dala Floda, and in particular its punchier little cousin Dala Moa.

Dala Floda and Dala Moa have their roots in the typefaces of the Renaissance but add the twist of being a stencil letterform – and in the case of Dala Moa (which ended up being the final brand font), a sans serif. This was important to us – we liked the functionality of a sans serif and the feeling of design purity, cleanliness and simplicity it conveyed. It was confident and sophisticated.

Originally inspired by worn gravestone lettering and lettering on shipping crates, the elegance of the forms belies their everyday origins. The stencil forms make both families very distinctive for headline use and we found Dala Moa especially well suited for our logotype. We loved its intricate and dramatic tapering of strokes, and – with geometric shapes being central to our ‘pollen’ concept – the way perfect circles hang playfully off certain letters.

First designed in 1997 for a logotype, Dala Floda eventually became the headline typeface for the art magazine Frieze in 2005. Since then the family has grown considerably, with the addition of an italic and a range of heavier weights, all the way up to a fat weight.

Designed by Paul Barnes, Dala Moa takes the same inspiration from its cousin Floda – the erosion of letters on stones – but pushes the idea one stage further with the removal of serifs, revealing basic structures.

Jan Tschichold’s Saskia Font

While most stencil fonts are decidedly cold and static, Dala Moa’s simplicity is shared with a carefully cons­idered humanist warmth. The lighter weights show the influence of Jan Tschichold’s stencil experiments of the 1930s, and in particular his lesser-known display face Saskia.

Dala Moa has a very particular voice that mixes the practicality of stencil faces with the refinement of a high-contrast sans serif. As graphic designer Wael Morcos notes, “Even though Dala Moa is inspired by Jan Tschichold’s 1930s stencil experiment Saskia, it brings to mind Neville Brody’s FF Blur (1992). The two typefaces share a common ethos: they are both typographic tran­slations of physical properties of the natural world: erosion, degeneration, and disappearance. While Blur characterized the visual language of the early ’90s, Dala Moa is already playing a noticeable role in framing the populist fashion taste of today’s visual culture.”

Dala Moa is a novelty of a typeface with a pleasant surprise at every curve. Beautifully abstract, it has a musical rhythm in its triangular serifs and circles, which turn uppercase letters to slashes and dots. We found its playful yet elegant whimsy was a perfect match for the Polleni and Pollen Place brands.