According to its creators, Stockholm design agency Söderhavet and font designer Stefan Hattenbach, Sweden Sans is a “modern” but edgy typeface with some local tweaks — a filled ring over the letter “å,” for instance, and a line that cuts through the zero — and takes its inspiration from old street signs.
Sans is meant to encapsulate fuzzy Scandinavian concepts — progressivism, authenticity, lagom (Swedish for “just the right amount”). So how does it do it? “It’s a pretty open typeface. They’re simple shapes. We’ve worked on the spaces between the letters to try to keep it light and airy.”
Sweden as a country is not flashy. Sure the people are stunningly beautiful and it is one of the richest countries in the world, but they definitely don’t flash it around. They dress and furnish minimally and in neutrals. They don’t brag or boast. The system runs on consensus rather than conflict. The body language is pared down and understated as is their spoken language. It is only recently that designer labels have taken hold but if you see someone in bling, fur, heavy makeup and designer logos in Stockholm, they are usually Russian. That is not a dig at Russians, by the way, they just have a different culture and style, as do the French and the Italians. My wedding and engagement ring was very sparkly (you can see it in one of the photos in the sidebar) and I was told by a jeweler that it was ‘too much’ for Sweden. I like dramatic jewellery but I do stick out like a sore thumb sometimes, though I always wear clothes that are plain and black with flat shoes.
Another thing that is very Swedish is their agencies. Unlike other countries which have large government ministries and few agencies, Sweden has small ministries whose only task is to create laws and 467 authorities (as at September 2014) tasked with carrying them out. This is the new font of the authorities, to create cohesion across widely divergent missions.