Central School of Speech & Drama
Studio 8 had already developed the concept of bold grotesque characters with an inline to simulate neon lit signs. So their basic requirement for the font family was a solid bold, bold with inline, and a stand-alone light font that visually resembled the inline. This looked deceptively simple and we soon realized that this project was far more involved than originally anticipated.
In order to establish the basic design principles we created the solid bold weight first. As with all our projects, we worked on the ASCII character set first to give the client an opportunity to see the font in action using English examples. Using these ASCII characters we then started trials for the inline font, but found that the entire bold weight would need to be redrawn with far less contrast of horizontal and vertical lines; normally in a bold weight there is considerable difference in weight between horizontal and vertical strokes, particularly in dense characters such as 'B' and 'S'. Whilst this is perfectly fine for a solid typeface, even at display sizes, the moment an inline is placed into the character this contrast becomes far too noticeable. To complete the design of the inline, to ensure that it evoked a feeling of strip-lighting, the terminals were rounded off creating a pleasing hard/soft contrast within the characters.
The standalone light weight could not simply be stripped out of the inline. It had to be completely redesigned to match the proportions of the solid bold font, yet at the same time resemble the look and feel of the inline. In addition, the light weight would be used at smaller sizes and accordingly visual adjustments had to be made to both weight and spacing.
Where diagonals met in the inline version they needed to have a squared-off design to accommodate the junction of the bold weight – to strengthen the visual link between the inline and light fonts we carried this feature across, albeit in a reduced fashion. As the project progressed our design team were confronted by increasing demands on how the font family would be used in the future. We rose to the challenge, and continued to tweak the font design to ensure that it was usable in as wide a range of applications as possible.
The new CSSD identity launched at the end of February 2010, after nearly a year's preparation, using its new typographic style from the school sign to merchandise. It is an exquisite example of how versatile a typographic identity can be, and how simply it can be applied, leaving a clear and clean visual impression that will look as fresh in ten years' time as it does now.