The Right Type

Myriad Pro Font Sample Text

Myriad Pro Typeface

Loughborough Design Press will be using Myriad Pro as its standard typeface. Simple statement: not an easy decision. Although the great designer of Times Roman, Stanley Morison, thought that if you noticed the typography of a book or newspaper it was bad design, he had pretty strong views himself. He was never reconciled to the use of sans serif for setting a lot of text. Even Morison’s friends called him ‘sombre and austere’ so we must imagine he wouldn’t agree with our decision.

The row over setting continuous text in sans serif is long over but it was fierce for quite a long period. Edward Johnston’s classic letters for the London Underground were designed as long ago as 1916 but were originally intended only for signs and not for text. It was updated in 1997. Johnston was a calligrapher and something of calligraphy comes over in his designs. Paul Renner’s deliberately revolutionary Futura was commissioned by the German publisher Jakob Hegner in 1924. Renner was deeply involved in the modern movement that, in the 1920s, flourished in the chaotic politics of Russia and the Weimar Republic. LDP considered Futura but (shades of Stanley Morison) decided it was too recognisable!


Futura Font Poster

During the Second World War Gill Sans (Eric Gill’s masterpiece) was widely used in government propaganda and other official publications. Using Gill now says 1940s loud and clear whichis a pity because it would have been a good type for LDP. It is clear, humane and modern.

When peace came the typographic war continued. Switzerland became the the home of radical modernism in graphic design. Irreverently labelled ‘grid and grot’ by British traditionalists it was enthusiastically embraced by our editorial director, Ken Baynes. He caught the bug when he worked for Graphis Press in Zurich. Univers and Helvetica (the clue’s in the name) were the iconic types of the period, both emerging in 1957. Adrian Frutiger designed Univers for the French type founders Deberny & Peignot and it was marketed as ‘a synthesis of Swiss thoroughness, French elegance and British precision in pattern manufacture’ Stanley Morison called it the ‘least bad ‘ sans serif face. Ken used Univers when he designed the report on Bruce Archer’s King’s Fund bed. It was definitely an ideological statement. So, yes, Univers could have been good for LDP. But again, it is so familiar.

Frutiger Font

Frutiger Font

We definitely considered Frutiger. Adrian Frutiger must surely be recognized as one of the greatest type designers and one of LDP’s missions is to highlight the importance of great designers. Frutiger is a development from Univers and is rather less distinctive. This move to anonymity was intentional. Echoing Morison (here he is again), Frutiger said ‘if you remember the shape of your spoon at lunch, it has to be the wrong shape … When it is a good design, the reader has to feel comfortable because the letter is both banal and beautiful’ Frutiger for LDP? In the end no because it has been used on so many signage systems for big institutions that it feels too ‘official’ for a small rather cheeky publisher.

Myriad Pro has many qualities in common with Frutiger. It is very legible and economical on space. It looks ‘modern’ but with no nostalgic hangover for the great days of ‘modernism’. We like its sharp, 21st century feel. Designed by two Adobe staff designers Robert Slimbach and Carol Twombly in has just the right amount of anonymity for us and should carry on the theme of 21st century modernism that Eddie captured in our favicon.

LDP recommends a great book and a great website for type enthusiasts:

Just My Type BookJust my Type by Simon Garfield
Profile Books, 2010 (paperback, 2011)
ISBN 978-1846683022
eISBN 978-1847652928

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