“The main fonts are not just shapes,” says Ulanovsky. “They define something from one moment in the history of the city. It's about light, about industry. And maybe that's why the font has many users around the world—it's not just Buenos Aires. Monserrat also reminds people of other cities and old signs.”
The classic elegance and international appeal of the initial design prompted waves of expansion to the Montserrat family in recent years, culminating most recently in the addition of Cyrillic characters. Montserrat now has nine weights (from Thin to Black) in Roman and Italic, a set of alternate characters, and a distinctive Subrayada (underlined) variant. These expansions added versatility to the original design by using clever and distinctive details Ulanovsky found in archival photographs of Buenos Aires from the 1920-1950s.
This year's Cyrillic expansion culminated in 8,640 new characters for Montserrat. Ulanovsky’s collaborator, Sol Matas, said the greatest challenge was remaining faithful to the original Argentine inspiration while creating a design that looked natural in the Cyrillic context. Since neither Ulanovsky, Matas, nor their collaborator Juan Pablo del Perral were native readers of a Cyrillic language, the expansion work was closely reviewed by two Russian type designers, Maria Doreuli and Alexei Vanyashin. Vanyashin’s feedback to the Argentine design team included suggestions to bring a character “closer to its historical representation,” and to avoid using certain forms that could be mistaken for another character entirely.