Infoletter: March 2012
Last month it was announced that Nokia Pure had been nominated for the Design Museum “Designs of the Year 2012” in the Graphics category. We were, of course, absolutely delighted to be nominated for such a hugely celebrated award. Aapo Bovellan, Nokia’s Brand Director had this to say about the font and why it had received the nomination:
“Nokia Pure is a celebration of our Finnish design heritage. We wanted to give it a natural, flowing form, while creating something that is highly functional and neutral. Together with Dalton Maag we designed a beautifully usable typeface that reaches over 4 billion people in their first language.”
The exhibition showcasing all the nominations is now open at the Design Museum and will run until 4th July. The Nokia Pure exhibit is displayed shoulder to shoulder with the best of the year’s design in categories as disparate as Fashion, Graphics and Architecture. It is an amazing exhibition full of design innovation, although of course we regard our own entry as the jewel in the crown.
Winners are announced on 24th April, with a winner for each category being selected by an international jury, and the overall winner being awarded “Design of the Year”.
A full case study of the Nokia Pure design is available on our website.
The FA Cup is one of the biggest, and most publicised, football events of the year in the UK. Sponsorship is hugely important to the competition, and with the introduction of their new sponsor, Budweiser, the FA decided to refresh the brand image of the competition. They contacted Tim Fox at design agency Design Room and asked him to work alongside their in-house design team in developing the new visual identity.
Design Room brought in Dalton Maag to work on a key part of the identity, a bespoke font for the brand. We immediately began to put together ideas for the new font that would communicate the essential ethos of the FA Cup identity.
We were conscious of the fact that the font would be used everywhere that the FA Cup was being publicised, and every time that it was used, it would have to convey the image and values of the brand. It needed real character and versatility.
The FA Cup trophy is an iconic image itself, and the font had to work with the flowing lines of the new logo graphic that incorporated the trophy. It also had to be bold and make a strong statement, so we used our expertise to create an angular, sans serif font. The primary purpose of the resulting typeface was to have impact, but it was also readable and, equally importantly, unique. It worked well as a counterpoint to the curves of the logo without seeming out of place, or overshadowing the graphic.
The former identity of the FA Cup had been very masculine, so one of the aims of the new design was to make it more friendly to women, without alienating its male audience. The graphic and the font together achieved this goal without diminishing the Budweiser brand. The typeface and graphic are now being used very successfully by both the FA and Budweiser to promote the FA Cup. The FA Cup website is also using Dalton Maag’s Lexia for body copy, which complements the logo perfectly.
The opening up of the Far East to foreign trade represents an amazing opportunity for businesses around the world, and more and more companies are expanding their business into these new markets. However, transferring brands to the Far East can be difficult, particularly when it comes to fonts. The existing choice of fonts in local script systems is currently very limited.
Dalton Maag have been designing fonts for a number of non-Latin script systems for several years now, primarily Greek, Cyrillic and Arabic. More recently we have also been introduced to the Asian scripts, many of which are highly complex both in design and technical terms. Our latest challenge comes in the form of Chinese font design.
The biggest and most obvious problem we face when designing for Chinese is the sheer number of characters that are required. A standard font that is to be used within the People’s Republic of China requires the creation of 27,500 characters, with an extra set of stylistic variations of around 15,000 glyphs for Hong Kong, Taiwan, other Chinese regions, and Japan. On top of this, Korean requires another 12,000 glyphs and is a separate project on its own.
Such large character sets result in data heavy fonts, normally around 8 to 10MB, but this could be as large as 15MB for the basic Chinese character set. This file size is not acceptable if the fonts are to be embedded in mobile devices, like phones and tablets. Even fonts that are web-embedded require a considerably smaller file size to be efficient. The answer is to create two separate versions of the font – one that respects high quality design and subtle typographic variation; another that utilises scaling of repetitive components to significantly reduce the data size. This approach results in considerable aesthetic compromises, but these are not normally apparent within a small screen or UI environment, however they would be unacceptable in print.
It would be totally unworkable to individually design 27,500 characters within a reasonable time frame and budget. By analysing the system of the Chinese script, and doing our research, we recognised that many basic character elements – radicals – are used over and over, in different combinations with one another. Each Chinese glyph fits within a cell, usually square in shape. Each cell is divided into quarters which the radicals have to fit into. Some of them will take two quarters, horizontally or vertically, others only one. Accordingly, all the radical elements have to be refined for their reduced size usage to ensure an even texture within the glyph itself, and across all characters.
All Chinese script fonts that are meant for distribution within the People’s Republic of China have to pass the GB18030-2005 certification by the Chinese government. It defines the minimum number of characters that have to be present and also has strict guidelines for the design of the characters. This makes an innovative approach to Chinese type design practically impossible and severely limits the ability to transfer unique design features from other script systems.
Obviously, this is just the start of our journey into Far Eastern fonts, so we’ll be writing more about how Dalton Maag tackles these fascinating and complicated script systems in the near future.
Educating design students about typography has always been something which Dalton Maag has felt is important. We’re passionate about good type and we want others to be too. We continue to invite interns to come to our studio and learn about type directly from a working foundry. Our new arrivals are usually surprised to find that they start work by turning off their computer and drawing fonts by hand.
Bruno Maag and Tom Foley recently had the opportunity to spend some time at the London College of Communication with a class of students and they set them to work on a project which would get them looking at the fundamental basics of typography. The class was split into four groups which were tasked with examining typography on different levels, from individual letters to the page as a whole. They were expected to conduct research into all areas of typographic design and produce a booklet at the end of the project. Their homework is due soon, so hopefully they’ve put everything that they’ve learnt into practice and will get high marks.
In Brazil, Fabio Haag has been teaching typography at the Perestroika creative school. He taught a course called Extrabold PRO in Porto Alegre, targeting graphic designers and art directors. It was a five day programme, with the aim of teaching them everything they needed to know about choosing and using typography correctly. Perestroika’s aim is to provide courses that take a fresh approach to learning, so Fabio used hands on exercises in calligraphy to help his students to understand the letter forms and how different fonts have different feels and tones. They then went on to design personal logos and transfer their creations to the computer, showing how fonts work in real life.
Amélie Bonet also taught a two day workshop at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad during her recent trip to India. The students, who were in their final year of studying Graphic Communication, were enthusiastic to learn more about typography from someone who works as a font designer. They researched and sketched out solutions to problems frequently encountered in sign design for Latin and Indic scripts. Amélie demonstrated to the students how designing letters is a systematic process, where shapes have to closely relate to one another yet still be unique.