Dark and mysterious, eloquent and bright.
A fiery display face rooted in one of typography’s most significant periods, Quarto is a study in contrast and control.
Beginning in 1570, the Flemish punchcutter Hendrik van den Keere created some of the world’s first display types, large-size alphabets for choirbooks that were designed to be read at a distance. These typefaces, with their dark strokes and compact proportions, grew out of the gothic tradition of the north, and were characteristic of a regional style that came to be known as the “Dutch taste.” This aesthetic would flower into the Baroque style that would dominate printing for the next 150 years, giving typography some of its most enduring typefaces, including Van Dijck, Janson Text, and Caslon.
Quarto is a modern adaptation of the Van den Keere style, designed for use at sixteen point and above. We selected Van den Keere’s Two-Line Double Pica Roman of 1570–1573 as a foundation for the family, an arresting design marked by striking dramatic tensions. Its consistently dark strokes are offset by bright, crisp serifs; its resolute verticality is punctuated by moments of lavish roundness. This theme of “controlled contrast” helped propel Quarto into territory unexplored by Van den Keere, including an italic whose fluid motions are checked by a steadfast rhythm, and heavier weights whose density is invigorated by sudden geometric turns and sharp corners. Like the Baroque models that inspired it, Quarto’s large x-height, short descenders, and trim serifs invite both tight tracking and solid leading, making it an excellent choice for headlines both in print and on screen.