The Design of Type

by December 10, 2005

Type seems to be getting a lot of attention these days. Here are a few recent ruminations on typography:

The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web

Richard Rutter of Clearleft is bringing principles from The Elements of Typographic Style to the Web one at a time:

“In order to allay some of the myths surrounding typography on the web, I have structured this website to step through Bringhurst’s working principles, explaining how to accomplish each using techniques available in html and css.”
The Anatomy of Web Fonts

Andy Hume discusses the limitations of working with type online and outlines the range of possibilities open to anyone willing to work a bit with their CSS:

“Having seen the technological issues that are going to inform our typographical choices, it's time for a more detailed look at the principles of typography as they apply to the Web.”
Erik Spiekermann - typography and design today

Spiekermann designed the fonts Meta, Officina, and Grotesk (a few of my favorites) among others.

“The problem with designing typefaces is that 90% has to look like everything else, because an A has to be an A and a B has to be a B. But you have to use that other 10% of leeway to make it look different!”
Making the Letters Better

Jenson Harris discusses Segoe UI, a new font for Office 12.

“Segoe UI was drawn in the humanist sans-serif style evoking natural, almost hand drawn letter shapes.”
Bold predictions for the savvy designer, 2006 edition

Cameron Moll prophesizes where Web type will go in 2006:

“Lucida - Expect this very webby typeface to continue to become mainstream. Helvetica/Arial + negative letter spacing - Expect this trend to spill over in spades into 2006”

All of this reminded me of an interview with Zuzana Licko (co-dounder of Émigré) on Fontshop that Chris sent me a while back:

"Design is about creating something new each time we approach a problem, even if it’s the same problem. Over time different solutions are required to address the same design problem because the context changes over time and results in shifting of meaning. Thus, the “same old solution” tends to become boring over time and leads the audience to lose interest."
"In addition, new technologies and environments arise to present new problems for the designer to address. The most successful experimental typeface designs are often those that address the needs of a new, yet unchartered, technology."

It seems even type designers know that design is never done.

“Any ‘solved problem’ that involves human beings solves a problem whose parameters must change through time.” –Bruce Sterling, Shaping Things