Fast Company:If you’ve ever been to a National Park, chances are you’ve come across signage with the same distinctive lettering. The type, which features rounded edges carved into wood in all caps, has become an icon of the National Parks system.
[Jeremy] Shellhorn, who was on sabbatical from his current job as an associate professor of design at the University of Kansas, was redesigning the park’s newspaper and wanted to include the type found on National Park signs. But he soon discovered there was no digital typeface because the letters are simply formed with a CNC router in the park’s sign shop, chiseled into wood. The shape of the letters were determined by the size of the router bit.
It doesn’t really exist as a typeface unless a sign is made.
Since Shellhorn published the typeface in summer 2018, it’s been downloaded by people in all 50 states and in several other countries. Next, he hopes to assign students to create a series of dingbats to go along with the typeface.
The Public Domain Review:A selection of the more inventive entries to a competition to design a new tower for London. The year previous, 1889, saw the hugely successful Eiffel Tower go up in the centre of Paris, and the good people of London, not to be outdone, decided to get one of their own. A wonderful array of designs were put forward. Many were suspiciously similar to the Eiffel Tower and many erred on the wackier side of things…
The very practical design number 37 by Stewart, McLaren and Dunn was eventually chosen to be awarded the 500 guinea prize-money and built in Wembley Park. Construction began in 1892 but the company in charge of the erection, The Metropolitan Tower Company, soon ran into problems including falling chronically behind schedule due to marshy ground and then financial difficulties which eventually led to their liquidation in 1889. Construction ceased after only 47 metres had been completed.
The Pedway: Elevating London…a documentary on the post-war redevelopment in the City of London – focusing on the attempt to build an ambitious network of elevated walkways through the city. The film explores why the ‘Pedway’ scheme was unsuccessful and captures the abandoned remains that, unknown to the public, still haunt the square mile.
Shani Avni:The first Hebrew type family by Ismar David – In 1932, Ismar David emigrated to Palestine from Germany. With his knowledge of, and familiarity with, the richness of Latin type, he conceived the first Hebrew typeface family. The design process spread over two decades, during which David researched the origin of the Hebrew script and writing traditions, and experimented in search of innovative letterforms.
In 1954, David completed his typeface family. However, it was not fully published until 2012. Parts of it were never produced, others were rejected by the locals, leaving Hebrew typesetters short.
This talk is based on research for my MA dissertation at the University of Reading. I will present David’s design process and ground-breaking results and will share the story of this lost design, offering reasons for its disappearance.
Today, type designers are challenged with creating larger type systems of manifold scripts. The making of this typeface family is therefore presented as a case study. It is particularly relevant to those who engage in enriching type systems outside the Latin realm, as it illustrates how to draw from the prosperity of the Latin, without forcing it on a different script.
Victor Gaultney:Soon after the invention of upright roman type, an interloper entered the arena—italic. Rather than displacing roman, it wound its way into our typographic culture, becoming an essential part of languages that use the Latin script. Our written communication depends on it, yet in all the books that have been written about type design there are often only a handful of pages about this essential style.
This talk will explore the roles italic plays in our typographic culture: as a language feature, a typographic element, a historical marker, a design object, and a business product. These roles have shaped the design of italic and inspired innovation and creativity. But they have also often forced italic into a subservient position. What is the essence of italic? Has that identity survived its use as a secondary complement to roman? Is it possible that this servitude has given italic the freedom to flourish?
This is the story of how italic established itself as part of our typographic language, was transformed as it was relegated to secondary roles, and yet remains a strong and essential part of typeface design.
David Jonathan Ross:As a native English speaker, I draw hundreds of accented Latin characters in my fonts that I will never use myself. These can easily become a source of stress, because of their unfamiliarity and their sheer quantity; I often find myself wondering, “Am I doing this right?”
Sofie Beier:When a reader encounters an illegible letter, he or she can draw on information from the neighbouring letters and from the sentence structure and thus make an educated guess as to what the letter might be. The same is not the case when the target is a number. In such situations, there is no additional help from the surrounding numbers or from the structure of the text. It is therefore essential that one number not be mistaken for another. In spite of this, there is very little relevant research on numeral legibility.
Legibility is one of the aspects of type design I find to be most interesting and worthwhile. Sofie Beier’s book Reading Letters is highly recommended.
Bruno Bernard:“Excoffon will be the end product of all my thinking, the sum of everything that I have accumulated during my career as a typographer.” This is how typography master Roger Excoffon would describe the typeface he was working on in 1974, a daring and uncommon oldstyle face. Unfortunately the typeface failed to be published because of a contractual misunderstanding, and Excoffon died a few years later.
Based on Bruno Bernard’s exploration of the Excoffon archives this presentation will summarize his gatherings about this fascinating project. It will try to identify the concepts Excoffon wanted to piece together to propose new ways of thinking about type design. Finally it will raise questions about how to find the right way to value this typeface and present it to the public.
Other ATypI 2017 Montréal talks I enjoyed
We need to talk about standards — Bruno Maag:This presentation aims to start a discussion on how we, as an industry, can implement standards for all fonts that are produced and sold commercially, and how we can define a terminology which users can rely on to be consistent, irrespective of where the font comes from.
Marginalized Typography — Daniel Rhatigan:This overview of men’s magazines for mature gay audiences looks at the often novel and witty use of typography and design in genres rarely considered for anything other than their photography.
Cartier: What was Carl Dair thinking? — Nick Shinn:The 1950s and ’60s saw a stunning adoption of modernism by Canada’s creative arts community, and Carl Dair was a key player. His work as a graphic designer was thoroughly up to date, and yet for Canada’s first proper typeface he went back to the Renaissance, old metal, and calligraphy for inspiration and effect.
Caleb Kraft for Make:I needed a desk for my office. Being a maker that is also loaded down with fancy tools, I couldn’t bear to go to the store and buy something. I decided I wanted to make something, and the design would have to be one that I wouldn’t mind looking at for long periods of time.
The big question at this point, however, is what to do with the files. Do I share them even though this is a knockoff of Helmut Magg’s work?
This is a lovely project idea and something I would very much like to do for myself.
This particular project raises some interesting questions as the desk is based on a fairly famous 50s writing desk designed by Helmut Magg. It and other similar Magg desks are still sold from licensed vendors for thousands of dollars apiece. There is also a pretty healthy knockoff market. Like the author, I think these kinds of designs are fine to use as inspiration for personal projects, but selling them — or even giving away the design blueprints — definitely puts you in a grey area. You’d probably be opening yourself up to a lawsuit, even if you were ultimately well within your legal rights.
Make: Design for CNC — This book introduces the knowledge and skills that you’ll find widely applicable across all kinds of CNC projects. Not only will you learn how to design, fabricate, and assemble a wide range of projects, you’ll have some great furniture to show for it!
In Autodesk Fusion360, I designed my own. This is where things start to get muddy. I looked at his, then put it away and designed my own. All my angles and measurements are actually different than his. However, I very obviously was designing something to look pretty much just like his.
Diglû consists of 440 characters and 404 pictograms developed for the analysis and mediation of archaeological finds. It was developed as a research project of the Swiss National Fund for Scientific Research as a part of the doctoral thesis of Fabienne Kilchör.
A lineal typeface designed with 6 weights and 844 pictographic symbols Diglû is a substantial subset of the Unicode standard focused on one specific area of application.
Diglû will be made available through the independent type foundry Extraset.ch, where other pictograms serving different niches will be developed.
Reagan Ray has compiled an extensive gallery of retro VHS distributor logos on his blog: I was a little surprised to find out that there have been over 2,000 different movie distribution companies since the late 70s. Most of the heavy hitters are still around, but a lot of them are long out of business.
The Collection is a short documentary about two friends, DJ Ginsberg and Marilyn Wagner, and their discovery of an astonishing and unique collection of movie memorabilia, comprised of over 40,000 printer blocks and 20,000 printer plates used to create the original newspaper advertisements for virtually every movie released in the United States from the silent period through 1984, when newspapers stopped using the letterpress format.
The collection, which spans nearly the entire history of the film industry from the silent era to 1984, was recently appraised at ~$10 million and is available for acquisition. (via Kottke)
What appeals to me about this story is less the collection itself, and more the opportunity to enjoy a project like this! To unpack all of these plates, clean them, print them, catalog them… Fun! One day I hope I make a similar discovery.
A tiny universe of fonts that combines the informality of handwriting, the expressiveness of lettering, and the versatility of type.
This typeface family is gorgeous. I am itching to use it for some publication!
Typefaces, by design, are unyielding in their style: a good typeface commits to a single visual idea, and explores it with thoroughness and consistency to produce a dependable tool for designers. Contrast this with handwriting, which serves only to record the thoughts of an author, but has the freedom to move from style to style as the message dictates. A writer might scribble a paragraph in cursive handwriting, but punctuate key points with capitals, or backtrack to over-ink some crucial point with darker and more deliberate strokes. It’s a flexibility that makes handwritten communications compelling, and makes the medium of writing infinitely expressive. By comparison, typography can feel almost stifling.
A guide to what different colours symbolize in different countries; a useful consideration for designers. [PDF]
For example, the color red has many different meanings in other countries. In the United States red signifies danger and is often interpreted as a signal to stop, yet it also symbolizes love and passion. However, in China red speaks of good fortune, celebration and happiness. On the financial front, red denotes a rise in stock prices in East Asian stock markets while it reflects a drop in stock prices in North American stock markets. In many ways these attitudes toward color are completely opposite in these different cultures.
Purple is another example. There are vast differences in how some countries perceive this color. Japan looks at purple as wealth. France sees it as freedom or peace. The U.K., China and the United States understand purple as royalty. India, however, identifies this color with sorrow and unhappiness.
I don’t do many posts highlighting new brand identity work, but I really like this. Some might reasonably argue that the design is too clever, but I feel like that’s fine for this company logo. If this were the new Firefox logo, that might be a different matter.
Our logo with its nod to URL language reinforces that the Internet is at the heart of Mozilla. We are committed to the original intent of the link as the beginning of an unfiltered, unmediated experience into the rich content of the Internet.
The font for the wordmark and accompanying copy lines is Zilla. Created for us by Typotheque in the Netherlands, Zilla is free and open to all. [The font will be made available later.]
We chose to partner with Peter Bilak from Typotheque because of their deep knowledge of localization of fonts, and our commitment to having a font that includes languages beyond English. Prior to partnering with Typotheque, we received concepts and guidance from Anton Koovit and FontSmith.
Selected to evoke the Courier font used as the original default in coding, Zilla has a journalistic feel reinforcing our commitment to participate in conversations about key issues of Internet health. It bucks the current convention of sans serif fonts.
Anyone can create the Mozilla logo by typing and highlighting with the Zilla font, making the logo open and democratic.
The black box surrounding the logo is a key building block of the design, and echoes the way we all select type in toolbars and programs.
“At the core of this project is the need for Mozilla’s purpose and brand to be better understood by more people. We want to be known as the champions for a healthy Internet. An Internet where we are all free to explore and discover and create and innovate without barriers or limitations. Where power is in the hands of many, not held by few. An Internet where our safety, security and identity are respected.” — Mozilla
Atlas Obscura:Some designs, as with the Communist Propaganda set, arose from ideology. Some were born out of wealth, such as the opulent rock crystal and silver set from 16th-century France. And some were made from necessity, such as the cardboard pieces created during the 900-day siege of Leningrad in World War II.
A John Company—the informal name for the East India Company—chess set, made in India c. 1830.
A Chinese chess set from the early 18th century. The pieces are depicted as rats, the first animal in the Chinese zodiac. Carved from ivory, the eyes are pieces of ruby and amber.
An improvised Russian chess set, made from bent wire in a gulag in the 1970s.
The set designed for cosmonauts on board the 1970 Soyuz 9 mission.
An insect chess board, created in Italy in the late 18th century.
An ivory and mother-of-pearl chess set created in South Asia. In 1712 it was gifted by the Emir of Bukhara to a Polish prince.
Master Works: Rare and Beautiful Chess Sets of the World — This book brings together some of the most beautiful and unusual chess sets ever made. Over hundreds of years, from five continents, they are culled from private collections and museums, including: 200 year-old sets made by nameless Indian craftsmen; sets by Peter Carl Fabergé; sets from Soviet gulag prisoners; and sets by leading artists of the 20th century, including Max Ernst.
Chess set architecture — Daniel Weil has created a new design for the chess set which is making its debut at the World Chess Candidates Tournament in London.
Archicards — Architectural playing card designs by Italian architect Federico Babina.
Chess, one of the world’s most popular games, has inspired artists for hundreds of years. Though apparently offering a limited canvas – each set has 32 pieces, each board 64 squares – sets have nevertheless been designed in countless ways, using almost every imaginable material: from precious metals, to ivory and rock crystal.
The AxiDraw is a simple, modern, precise, and versatile pen plotter, capable of writing or drawing on almost any flat surface. It can write with your favorite fountain pens, permanent markers, and other writing implements to handle an endless variety of applications.
The AxiDraw is an extremely versatile machine, designed to serve a wide variety of everyday and specialized drawing and writing needs. You can use it for almost any task that might normally be carried out with a handheld pen.
While no parts on AxiDraw require regular replacement, this new machine is built with a “screws not glue” design approach throughout, where essentially every part can be replaced by the end user if it should ever become necessary.
“All of the cities in the project had the same requirements: they had to fit in a 120px circle (with 10px of padding), the lines had to be 3px wide with a minimum of another 3px between the next parallel line, and all diagonals had to be 45-degrees.” — Peter Dovak
The past year  Stian spent most of his time exploring the unique organic qualities of wood and how adding of a function can beautifully refine a piece of wood. The project consists of 365 unique hand carved spoons made from various types of wood. One carved everyday through a year.
The Toyota Setsuna (Japanese for “moment”) is a roadster concept car made from cedar and birch and built using a traditional Japanese carpentry technique known as “okuriari” that doesn’t involve nails or screws but relies on perfectly carved joints to hold the components together.
Primitive Technology: Making a bow and arrow — “I made a bow and arrows in the wild using only natural materials and primitive tools I’d made previously from scratch (as usual). The tools used were a celt stone hatchet, a stone chisel, various stone blades and fire sticks.”
Fontsmith:The illustrations use one of our most accessible typefaces FS Me which was researched and developed with charity Mencap and designed specifically to improve legibility for people with learning disabilities.
Alphabet of typography — An alphabetical primer on the wonders of typography, including serifs, hooks, diacritics, spines, ligatures, and more.
“Accessibility in typography is not an exact science and there is no such thing as either accessible or not. It is better to imagine a sliding scale where certain speciality typefaces are highly accessible at one end and some eg. script or display fonts are very inaccessible at the other end. Most fonts lie somewhere in the middle.” — Fontsmith
When text is rendered by a computer, sometimes characters are displayed as “tofu”. They are little boxes to indicate your device doesn’t have a font to display the text.
Google has been developing a font family called Noto, which aims to support all languages with a harmonious look and feel. Noto is Google’s answer to tofu. The name noto is to convey the idea that Google’s goal is to see “no more tofu”. Noto has multiple styles and weights, and is freely available to all.
Monotype:A typeface five years in the making, Google Noto spans more than 100 writing systems, 800 languages, and hundreds of thousands of characters. A collaborative effort between Google and Monotype, the Noto typeface is a truly universal method of communication for billions of people around the world accessing digital content.
Above: Malayalam and Devanagari in-use on Android devices
TechCrunch:To be sure, there was a degree of skepticism when Google and Monotype embarked on this project, in my opinion well summed up in the words of Pakistani-American writer Ali Eteraz (quoted by NPR in 2014, when the project was already well underway):
“I tend to go back and forth. Is it sort of a benign — possibly even helpful — universalism that Google is bringing to the table? Or is it something like technological imperialism?”
Noto includes Android’s blobby emoji
Wired:But developing a typeface for 800 languages that feels cohesive yet respectful of each language’s cultural heritage created inherent tension. And making those fonts “unmistakably Google” is nearly impossible. The Tibetan script, for example, draws heavily from a calligraphic tradition, while English is more linear and geometric. The Arabic typeface is emphasized in left to right strokes, while French’s letters carry their weight in their vertical stems. Some fonts, like Runic, are so obscure that typographers at Monotype built the font from scratch using stone engravings for inspiration.
[Steve Matteson, Monotype’s creative director] designed Noto to be modern but friendly, with open counters, soft terminals, and strokes rooted in 5th century calligraphy. He avoided making Noto too austere, mostly because the shapes wouldn’t translate as nicely to other languages.
“It’s not easy to interpret fancy calligraphic languages like Tibetan into a Futura typeface model, which is all circles and straight lines.”
Vox:So…why does all the writing in comic books look like that? Vox’s Phil Edwards looked into it and found an aesthetic shaped by comics culture, technology, and really cheap paper.
Todd Klein’s website — I’m best known in comics as a letterer, which I’ve been doing since 1977, working with writers like Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Bill Willingham and many others, and collaborating with a host of artists.
I really like the look of this new HP desktop. The Amazon Echo-esque form factor makes a lot of sense — if the voice assistant is the way of the future, the PC should absolutely be a speaker. And this has a B&O speaker, so it should be pretty decent too.
HP: HP’s newest desktops: Not your father’s PC — The small, triangular shaped HP Pavilion Wave – about 15 percent the size of a traditional tower – has a distinctive design that was formed by arranging the internal components into a layout that would be optimal for the most demanding computing tasks. On one side is the motherboard, including the processor, discrete graphics card and SSD, while a second side holds the hard drive. The third side contains the thermals – heat pipes that extract heat from the motherboard and graphics card, push it through copper pipes, across cooling fins and out the machine’s top.
The Verge: HP’s new PC looks like a speaker — While the Wave isn’t a speaker, HP is still advertising its prowess as one. The computer has a large central speaker, which has its sound sent out in all directions by blasting against the sloped top cover of the PC. It’s a neat trick — and, during a brief demo in a small space, it did appear to get pretty loud — but it’s probably not a replacement for a dedicated speaker.
“The quality-woven exterior material was carefully created to allow for broad-spectrum audio transmission while retaining the texture and design appeal of fabric. The vented sides at the top of the device allow sound to project out.” –HP
The Stone Sinister [Above] — A massive stone hand of a nigh-unbelievable scale, the Stone Sinister appears to be the grasping hand of some massive giant pushing out of the ground. Maybe the result of strange magics (or a titan fumbling a saving throw against a cockatrice), or just as likely a piece of obscure architecture, the Sinister is partially hollow with multiple levels linked together by a ladder that runs up along the inside of the back of the hand in line with the pointer finger.
Kemp’s Divide [Above] — Kemp’s Divide makes for a good interface between the surface and underdark communities – a point of contact and trade between small communities and clans who in turn work with larger factions and can lead to the exploration of whichever realm the players are not currently familiar with.
“As I practiced the style, I challenged myself to draw a geomorph every other day until I had at least 100 geomorphs. The blog got pretty boring during this stretch, but I learned a lot about mapping and dungeon design, and the blog got a reputation as a mapping blog.” — Dyson Logos
The symbols, designed to instantly communicate the essence of a sport, are in some ways quite literal. Cycling features a bicycle, equestrian a horse, basketball, well, a basketball. Yet designers invariably infuse these illustrations with elements that reflect the culture of the host city.
The evolution of ten Olympic event pictographs from 1964 to present
“Many of the pictograms you see are designed to represent the country or city where the Olympics are happening,” says Joel Grear of Malcolm Grear Designers, who created the pictograms of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. — Wired
Wired:Your first thought upon seeing Swindon’s ‘magic roundabout’ might be: man, the Brits have really lost the plot lately. But this thing—which is actually seven roundabouts in one—has been working for 60 years.
You just point your vehicle towards where you want to go, yeild to cars already in the midst of the ‘magic’, then ‘brexit’ on the other side.
If you’ve ever tried to find the fonts used for a particular Star Trek series or film, you’ll have found that there are thousands of poor imitations on free font sites everywhere. Thanks to Yves Peters at Font Shop, now there’s a guide to the original fonts of Star Trek!
What’s interesting about Star Trek is that it has a number of typical alphabets that are immediately recognisable, and have become an integral part of pop culture. While many fan-made fonts exist based on the logos and title sequences of popular movies and television series, Star Trek is one of the very rare franchises which at one point had officially released fonts. In 1992 Bitstream introduced the Star Trek Font Pack featuring four digital typefaces – Star Trek, the signature face of the original television series; Star Trek Film, used for the credit titles of the Star Trek movies; Star Trek Pi, a collection of Star Trek insignias and Klingon symbols; and Star Trek Bold Extended, the lettering of the name and registration number on the hull of all Starfleet space ships. The Star Trek Font Pack has been discontinued long ago – possibly over licensing issues – yet individual typeface designs are still available under different names. We will run into them in this article, plus some others.
In celebration of the upcoming release of Star Trek Beyond and the 50th anniversary of the franchise, Paramount had a poster created that mirrors Bob Peak’s beautiful artwork for The Motion Picture
ITC Serif Gothic: What connects new Star Wars, old Star Wars, and even Star Trek? This typeface
A contemporary update to Transport for London’s Johnston typeface, marking the centennial of its use across the London bus, rail and Underground systems.
First commissioned in 1913, British artist and calligrapher Edward Johnston was tasked with creating lettering with “bold simplicity” that would have clear roots in tradition, but wholeheartedly belong to the 20th century.
Distinctive diamond-shaped ‘tittles’ on the ‘i’ and ‘j’
Johnston100 includes 5 weights, including the brand new Thin and Hairline weights.
“Our brief to Monotype was to go back to the original principles of Johnston, to reflect on the way the font is now, and see what we might have lost in its 100-year journey. We didn’t want to redesign it, but we did know that certain things, for various reasons, had changed. Some of the lower case letters, for example had lost their uniqueness.”
TfL Head of Design Jon Hunter
Johnston100 restores idiosyncrasies of Edward Johnston’s original design, such as the distinctive diagonal bowl on the lowercase ‘g’.
“As social media has become more important, hashtags and ‘@’ signs are more important – Johnston never designed those because they were never needed. Mainly we wanted to make Johnston relevant and fit for today’s purpose.”
Design Week:Over the last 100 years, Johnston became narrower and more mechanical as functionality took precedence over design. Monotype has opted for a wider face, which better reflects Edward Johnston’s original drawings and gives it more of a relaxed feel.
“It was very important to TfL that we add the extra-thin weights, because of today’s digital trends. We were able to capture the contemporary trend and the fashion of having something very light and very elegant, but because we are still using the original structures, we were able to maintain the soul of the typeface.”
Nadine Chahine, UK type director at Monotype
I visited the Designology expedition at the London Transport Museum a few weeks ago and took some photographs of the design sketches for the 70’s New Johnston typeface.
The untold story of the British Rail logo — “The designers at DRU were given the brief and, to my knowledge, it didn’t satisfy Milner. So he threw it open to the rest of the studio, six or seven people. I just happened to think of this symbol.”
History of Helvetica — A fascinating history of the creation and adoption of this ubiquitous Swiss font.
“Johnston100 will be rolled out by TfL starting July 2016. Initially it will be used for printed material such as tube maps and posters, but over time the typeface will be used within TfL’s trains and station signage, including London’s new Crossrail Elizabeth Line – scheduled to open in 2018.” — Monotype