Grilli Type designs a bespoke typeface for Pinterest that lets pinned imagery “shine”

The foundry was commissioned by Made Thought to create Pinterest Sans, a custom type system as part of its brand revamp, which had to be distinctive but not overshadow the all-important pins.

12 May 2021


Grilli Type has designed Pinterest Sans, a bespoke typeface for Pinterest as part of Made Thought’s extensive work with the platform to unify its visual branding. The foundry were commissioned to design a custom typeface system to be used across the brand identity, which was ownable to the brand and recognisable while letting the visual imagery on the platform shine.

Andreas Helin, design director at Pinterest, worked closely with Grilli Type on the project, and says that on Pinterest, visual inspiration acts as “building blocks for the next thing in life”. So, he adds, they were looking for a typeface that captured that “intersection between geometric forms and human creativity”.

Grilli Type describes how the platform’s design team wanted a “distinctive sans serif that embodied the brand’s approachable and forward-thinking personality,” and, in collaboration with Helin, explored the range between geometric and handwritten shapes. “With that in mind we drew inspiration from constructed, geometric, and calligraphic sans serif typefaces for our first round of design explorations,” the team adds, pointing out Futura Alternates by Paul Renner (1927), Avenir by Adrian Frutiger (1988), Johnston Sans by Edward Johnston (1916) as visual references.


L-R: Futura Alternates by Paul Renner (1927), Avenir by Adrian Frutiger (1988), Johnston Sans by Edward Johnston (1916)

The first iteration combined handwritten sensibilities with the playful qualities of more geometric designs. Helin says he was drawn to these designs because they “embodied a nice balance of constructivist and humanist design,” adding that the flourishes in the lowercase ‘a’ and ‘y’ contribute a “sense of warmth and personality”.

According to Grilli Type, this warmth was enhanced by decreasing the high midlines in the uppercase letters and tapering curves  – which also ensured legibility at smaller sizes – and adjusting round letterforms to be less geometric and add a human touch. Then for the italic style, the typographers again took cues from handwriting, leaning eight degrees forward and emphasising the humanistic element of the design.

The foundry also created a separate version of the typeface called Pinterest UI to ensure consistency on all platforms and devices. Grilli Type explains that to increase legibility at smaller font sizes, a taller x-height was incorporated in all weights, and the typeface features vertically cut stroke endings that allow Pinterest to set text with tight spacing. The letterforms also feature ink traps, also to enhance legibility at small sizes.

Overall, Pinterest Sans gives Pinterest users a “collective friendly voice that leans into the future,” Grilli Type concludes. The team is working on expanding the typeface to support Cyrillic, Greek, Vietnamese and Japanese.

GalleryGrilli Type: Pinterest Sans, in collaboration with Made Thought (Copyright © Pinterest, 2021)

Hero Header

Grilli Type: Pinterest Sans, in collaboration with Made Thought (Copyright © Pinterest, 2021)

Share Article

Further Info

About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.