In response to technology and social shifts, typographic forms have dramatically evolved.
This book serves as a tool for designers to understand how typography has responded to dominant technologies, commercial demands, social shifts and aesthetic trends. The construction of the book, with careful layering and hand done coptic binding, lends to typographic ideals around patience and craft. It builds a sense of reveal as you open the book, encountering new sections and details as you go.
Alongside the main book is a type specimen; an extra section which aims to promote the use of the typeface FS Emeric. A unique twist on modernist typography, FS Emeric injects personality to create a typeface that embodies duality in its very form, a typeface that is both functional and quirky. The specimen brings this duality to life with transparent paper, allowing opposing characteristics to overlay each other in a way which physically shows contrast and harmony.
Typology: A Classification of Typefaces
Wellington, New Zealand
Tasked with creating a book to help designers understand how typography has evolved through history, I was asked to use grid systems to organise a large amount of content. Typographic treatment was to be focused on creating hierarchies to aid readability and information accessibility. A type specimen to encourage the use of a singular typeface was also to be included, with the content of this researched and written by myself.
A classification of typefaces
The typefaces designers have in their arsenals today all arose from varying cultural contexts in terms of social setting, available technology and aesthetic trends. In order to understand the stages of type-form development, typographers have developed various systems to classify typefaces. The Vox classification system, created by Maximilien Vox in 1954, is widely accepted and divides typefaces into nine key sections based on their form and historical context. An understanding of these classifications will equip designers with an understanding of what connotations certain typefaces carry, allowing them to be used with purpose.
FS Emeric specimen
FS Emeric is a recent typeface developed by the British foundry Fontsmith. It is a typeface that embodies duality in its very form. It has taken inspiration from modernist typefaces, with precision and geometry, and injected personality and energy in order to create an optimistic family which is both functional yet quirky.
From a conceptual standpoint I aimed to communicate the context each classification arose from and emphasise how this affected the type form. Furthermore, the reading experience of the book was to be consistent and logical with intermittent punches of energy, like running a marathon rather than a sprint. These were the driving ideas for design decisions throughout the construction of this piece. For the specimen I focused in on the duality and the quirky nature of the typeface.
The project began with a lot of exploration of the tone I wanted the book to carry. This involved extensive exploration of typeface combinations, colour, and the page’s layout. Once I settled on a base composition I extended this across the entire book, ensuring consistent vertical and horizontal alignments throughout the book.
The specimen was to communicate the conceptual nature and origins of FS Emeric. Thorough research into its origins, how it is marketed, the type foundry that created it, and how it has been used led me to focus on three key elements: its dual nature in terms of its contrasting characteristics and philosophies, its British origins and influences, and it’s extremely quirky and personable nature. After various prototyping efforts I settled on developing a book constructed with transparent paper as I could overlay elements, communicating FS Emeric’s duality - a typeface that is both this and that. Within the content I explored introducing a character known for having a split personality and found Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to be the perfect fit, a symbol for FS Emeric. Throughout the content I focused on injecting pops of human personality and including references to British culture, such as incorporating imagery of Winston Churchill.
The completion of this project involved working very closely with a printing company and local book binder. This was the stage with the most complications with a big challenge being colour matching the cover to the book’s interior. This was solved through creating many mock-ups testing paper weight, stock, finishes and printed colour.
The final piece presents a logical yet expressive guide through typographic history. Historical context is communicated subtly through the typeface text examples, such a Shakespearean quote for a 16th century typeface, and contextual imagery, such as the London Railway posters Gill Sans was famously used for. Aesthetically, strong horizontal flow lines across the entire book gently guide the reader through the content. Each Vox section is slightly different to tailor to the content and add some interest, however the consistent alignments and typographic treatment create a sense of cohesion. The bright yet limited colour palette emanates energy yet still retains sophistication.
The type specimen for FS Emeric connects to the main book through colour and the typeface being demonstrated extensively in the book’s headings and captions. The specimen embodies the values of FS Emeric. Its duality is shown through layering of transparent paper, characters such as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the written content. Its British origins are alluded to with references to the Queen and Winston Churchill. Finally, the typeface’s energy and personality is communicated through humour, personification and dynamic use of the page.
The layering used in the specimen is extended into the binding and book cover; designed to create a sense of reveal and depth. It also lends itself to typographic ideals around patience and craft.