Category Typography

Sawdust continues to prove they’re the best studio for experimental type design

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London based design studio Sawdust, made up of Jonathan Quainton and Rob Gonzalez, are leading the way in type design and their new portfolio update proves it. Creating work for clients like Wired, IBM, Coca-Cola and more, their approach is more akin to art or illustration, beautifully communicating a bold message. I personally love the path they’re traveling because a lot of the pieces have a futuristic, somewhat alien feeling to them. I feel like I don’t see this style in editorial all that often and would love to see it pop up more frequently.

Sawdust studio - typography

Sawdust studio - typography

HypeForType releases Glaser Stencil in a range of lighter weights

I first remember seeing Glaser Stencil being used on the cover of Phaidon’s Design Classics series – the chunkiest, quirkiest set of numerals you’ve ever seen. Now HypeForType has released the font in a set of lighter weights that will surely be much more versatile.

Glaser Stencil was designed by the world renowned American illustrator and graphic designer, Milton Glaser. Originally it featured on a Camegie Hall poster by Glaser in 1967. The bold weight was digitalised by many, however the forgotten lighter weights have never been digitalised until now. In agreement with Milton Glaser himself, Glaser Stencil has been officially brought back to life by Rick Banks at Face37, and is sold exclusively at HypeForType. Glaser Stencil is an all caps font available in four weights: Extra Light, Light, Medium, and Demi.

I’m guessing we’ll see these being used in a lot of restaurant branding. Snag it for yourself by clicking here.

HypeForType releases Glaser Stencil

Tobias Frere-Jones illustrates the basic mechanics of type

The always inspiring Tobias Frere-Jones has started a new series of posts on the mechanics of type and so far it sounds perfect for the novice and expert alike.

This new series of posts will explore what I call “typeface mechanics”, the behind-the-scenes work that makes typefaces visually functional. It is what placates the stubborn oddities of human perception, helps or hinders the user, and informs long-standing conventions of design.

The first part is about vertical and horizontal position of type. Logically you’d think all the letters would line up perfectly though unfortunately our brains don’t work that way. Take a read and see for yourself.

The Top Title Sequences Of 2014

Art Of The Title Top 10 Title Sequences Of 2014

Good title sequences are much rarer than they should be, an aesthetic often only considered by those making the opening credits of a Bond movie or the show True Detective. Title sequences are about setting a tone and style for a show and do so by doing either very little or a lot. The episodes and show may chance but the title sequence is the one item that ties everything up, alluding to what an audience knows and will find out if they stay tuned.

Art Of The Title knows this best and, to celebrate, they selected their top ten favorite title sequences of last year. The selections span from video games to movies to television shows and even promotional sequences. While just ten sounds paltry, their picks span a variety of styles and forms. For example the brilliant opening sequence for the decent game Alien: Isolation not only falls into an homage category, echoing the original Alien, but set the tone for a decidedly creepy (yet glacially slow) game. It’s place at number ten points out how stellar a year it was.

It’s a good little list, considering many of the titles were part of wonderfully considered and executed design efforts in entertainment (which is a rarity). There is even the wacky inclusion of “Too Many Cooks” which is just as absurd as the video but—hey—it truly is at its heart a title sequence.

Read the full list and see all the sequences in question by clicking here.

Typefacts Chooses The Best Fonts of 2014

Typefacts Chooses The Best Fonts of 2014

Christoph Koeberlin is a Berlin based typographer, graphic and type designer who on the side runs Typefacts, a blog dedicated to the world of type. Recently he published a post highlighting what he thought were the best fonts of 2014. I’m not usually a fan of lists like these but Christoph’s is spot on with an eclectic number of typefaces that I hadn’t seen before. The list is numerous with eleven of the fonts being highlighted because they stood out more to him.

I’m a big fan of Ryman Eco by Dan Rhatigan & Gunnar Vilhjálmsson, GT Sectra by Grilli Type, and Caponi by Paul Barnes, Christian Schwartz & Miguel Reyes. You’re sure to find a least a few gems in the list.

Sweden Enlists Söderhavet to Design A National Typeface

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How do you brand a country? A hard task, to say the least. Hot on the tails of Bobby’s post on Norway’s exceptional passport and currency design, another country has been catching the eye’s of designers: Sweden. This year, Stockholm-based design firm, Söderhavet, took on the challenge of reimagining their home country’s identity. The whole package is clean, modern, and oozes Scandinavia, but to me the most important part of which is the typeface they designed. It’s about time countries start putting more emphasis on type to aid in creating a national identity, because the ones that have done so in the past (Switzerland) have come to see phenomenal results.

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Nations are most quickly recognizable through their anthems, music, and food. But perhaps most important to a nation’s identity is the flag. There’s an old saying in design that specifically relates to branding, “if it works in black, it will work in color.” Yet, apply this to most flags and you’re left with unrecognizable monochrome results. This won’t do, there needs to be more to a country’s look. In redesigning Sweden’s image, Söderhavet went a step beyond and created a national typeface inspired by Swedish signs of the 1950s. They named that typeface “Sweden Sans”, a modern, geometric sans serif font.

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“Aesthetics are very important in Sweden and we have a long tradition of great architecture, furniture and design – so this was the natural next step,” said type designer Stefan Hattenbach of Söderhavet, who worked on the font. “It was a big responsibility to be representing our country, but we were really proud to be asked.”

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To create the typeface, the designers started with the Swedish flag. “We started to think about how it would work with different typefaces, then started mood boards with different fonts and pictures—especially of old Swedish signs we’d seen from the 1940s and 50s,” says Jesper Robinell, Söderhavet’s head of design. Six months later they were left with the clean, classic, minimal typeface that reflects Sweden. Little touches, like the capital Q’s tail pointing downward instead of slanting to the right, add a touch of modernity and originality to the concept.

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Not only did the team capture the look of Sweden, but they also captured the nation’s attitude. One of my favorite words in Swedish is lagom, meaning ‘not too much and not too little,’ something in the middle of being content. It’s a word, that as far as I have come to understand, more or less reflects the attitude of Sweden’s people. Hattenbach explains that, “lagom is what we’ve aimed for with Sweden Sans… It’s all about Scandinavian minimalism. If they notice the typeface too much, it hasn’t worked.” Success, if you ask me.

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Sweden is far from the first country to employ a national font because Switzerland has been doing so since the 60s. Their branding goes beyond an emblem, a color, or a national dish, but is instead immersed into the writing and language of the nation. What am I talking about? Helvetica, of course.

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Helvetica comes from Helvetia, the female national personification of the Swiss Confederation, and is an integral component of the International Typographic Style that swept the face of 20th-century graphic design. From train timetables to bank notes, the Swiss have accepted and employed this clean, simple character set with great success. Not only does it concisely reflect the nation’s identity, but it is recognized and used worldwide, working the front lines of Switzerland’s soft power.

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So, how do you brand a country? As Söderhavet and Switzerland have taught us, you need to think beyond a flag or colors. Consider application, as it’s your best means to having the concept used, remembered, and adopted by citizens.

You can find Sweden Sans for download here, as well as guidelines for working with the Swedish brand.

Charming Handmade Lettering and Type by Mark van Leeuwen

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I’ll admit I write about hand-lettered type often, it is a love of mine, but it’s also been continually trendy over the last few years. It’s a beautiful, difficult craft that I continue to be delighted by as I scroll through my various feeds. In particular Marco van Luijin, better known as Mark van Leeuwen, has one of the most consistent styles I’ve come across, possessing some great ability to produce familiarity over and over again. He also has a great eye for spacing and flow that can be difficult to achieve by hand.

Van Leeuwen, a Dutch freelance designer out of Northern Italy, specializes in typography, lettering and branding design, and he’s only sixteen-years-old! While he does some client work with logos, most of van Leeuwen’s work is made for fun and personal practice when he isn’t in school. He’s been teaching himself the craft by examining Instagram accounts of other letterers’ and incorporating techniques the techniques he notices. Before long, his style emerged. I especially notice his consistency when he uses sans serifs for supporting words.

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“I naturally began to develop a style that is slightly different than others’, but it is not a very intentional process,” van Leeuwen said. “Each time I work on something I want to experiment with new styles and techniques, but at the same time I do not want to make my work too much different from my previous creations. Like this I try to keep my style as consistent as possible, but interesting at the same time.”

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A lot of van Leeuwen’s early work involved layering type over photographs, as tends to be a common practice on Instagram, but he has since ceased to do that, instead trying to make type-work that could stand on it’s own. And he’s been quite successful. Van Leeuwen’s very good at getting his type to contain itself in very pleasing, inferred shapes, occasionally using some small illustrations to bring the whole piece together.

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Van Leeuwen recently released the typeface Timber, a thick, hand-lettered slab serif with a very outdoorsy feel that will be perfect for autumn. As van Leeuwen’s first typeface, he really want to create something versatile but that paid homage to his own vintage, handmade style. He intends to make more in the future.

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Barnes & Webb Employ a Creative Solution to Help the Honeybees

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You may have noticed that bees have been popping up here and there and the Fox is Black recently. Why? Quite simply: they’re important, not only to our own well-being but for that of the greater Earth too. Unfortunately in recent years their numbers have been dropping and their environments disrupted. Barnes & Webb of London have come up with a wholly creative solution that attempts to mitigate the issue. Their service offers bees right in your backyard and all the delicious honey that comes with doing so. What grabbed my attention was their detail to design, branding, and the arts, as they cleverly combine the three in order to uplift their service and aid the honeybee’s plight.

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Apes curamus et nos curant (we look after honey bees and they look after us); the tiny insects are integral to the environment but also economies. In the past 60 years, the number of honeybee colonies has fallen drastically from six million to two-and-a-half million present. According to the US Department of agriculture, one mouth in three benefits from honeybee pollination. That’s huge. How huge? As of June, President Obama launched a task force tasked with protecting the bees, investing $50m into research and action to combat the decline.

Environmental responsibility is becoming a popular public affair and more light is being shed on the honeybee issue. It’s businesses like Barnes & Webb that demonstrate, quite optimistically, how we can tackle these topics with a flair of creativity.

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Barnes & Webb install and manage beehives across London, providing raw, local honey and all the pleasures of urban beekeeping without any of the hassle. The concept is more or less as a result of a key insight: you don’t have to have 100 acres to help the honeybee. Every lawn, every yard, and even rooftops can pitch in. When it comes to honeybees, the smallest change can affect the global food supply—so customers can rest assured knowing they’re making a valuable contribution.

The creative approach trickles down into the product itself too. The package design is smart, clean, and minimal, which makes a traditional product feel modern and makes honey and the honeybee stand out on your shelves or kitchen cupboards. Engaging and proactive.

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Aside from the packaging, Barnes & Webb work with local talent to further help their brand stand out and place the honeybee on a pedestal. They’ve collaborated with designer Anthony Burrill to produce a one off print and identity, which the brand uses extensively, from posters to advertising. They’ve also seen commercial work be produced on behalf of Olivia Whitworth, an English architect turned illustrator, who adds charm and personality to the company’s image.

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The fun doesn’t stop at their packaging or advertising—just last week over 30 artists and illustrators created unique artworks that went on display and were auctioned off to fund the company’s not-for-profit campaign activities. Of the talent featured was Burrill, Edward Monaghan, Jean Julilen, Essy May, Adrian Johnson, Robert Hunter, Jody Barton, Stevie Gee, and more.

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Connecting bee lovers and keepers, artists, designers, environmentalists, and the wider public, Barnes & Webb use these events to ultimately raise awareness on the issues faced by the honeybee and other important pollinators. They believe in “combining the creativity, knowledge and passion of individuals and organizations to create initiatives that benefit the bees and our environment. A powerful network for positive change.”

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While it’s often easy to get cynical when it comes to environmental affairs, Barnes & Webb’s approach is refreshingly optimistic. Their service demonstrates that the issue can be aided with creativity and design.

Whether we like it or not we have a duty towards the planet, as recent years have seen us leave a negative impact. What many forget is that we therefore have the power to incur the inverse and work towards responsibly inhabiting what we’ve come to know as home. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, right? I believe Barnes & Webb are on the forefront of this positive change, their approach will serve to hopefully inspire others.

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The aforementioned collaboration and event was the first of many that the Barnes & Webb has planned. Follow the brand’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for updates on forthcoming events.