Our earliest ancestors, from deep prehistory, gazed up at the sky in awe. We soon determined through repeated observations that the celestial bodies appear to follow prescribed paths and that their positions in the sky coincided with or produced effects on earth. For the Egyptians, Isis’ tears over the death of Osiris made the Nile rivers swell but this annual flooding could be predicted with considerable precision based on the heliacal rising of the sky’s brightest star, Sirius. Moreover, the sun determined days and nights and years and seasons and regulated the plantings and harvests of agricultural civilization. If the sun, for most of history considered a planet, had such profound effects on the earth and its inhabitants, then it followed, quite reasonably, that the other wandering stars or planets produced similar effects too.
In February of 2016 designer and photographer Alistair Hall tweeted an image of a vintage luggage tag from the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company. I was struck by the type used for the word CABIN. It was heavy and compressed with straight sides and asymmetric stroke contrast reminiscent of American wood type. I saw in it potential – the beginnings of a typeface.
Notes on Designing and Producing the Typeface Wind
Hansje van Halem is a graphic designer who works with type. She blurs the boundaries between type and image, between foreground and background, often creating seductive patterns that only reveal their texts only when viewed from the distance, making the reader work hard to decode their message. I’ve been following her work for a long time, and about a year ago I went to a lecture in Amsterdam where she presented her latest projects.
Sandro Botticelli was born in Florence about 1445. In 1470, aged just 25, and shortly after printing was introduced to Italy, his prodigious talent led him to open his own studio. He flourished under the patronage of the Medici family and was invited by Pope Sixtus IV to paint frescoes in the recently restored Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, almost three decades before Michelangelo wielded his brush and brilliance to the chapel’s ceiling.
Just to be clear from the start: I don’t speak Hebrew. When I first started working with Hebrew type, I couldn’t tell one letter from another, or even whether the page was right-side-up or upside-down. In short, I was completely unqualified to work with the Hebrew alphabet.
Since before agricultural civilization, humans have used plants for their special properties – to nourish and heal, to harm and to poison. The earliest written compilations of plants can be traced back to the second millennium BC, with early traditions in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China and India. In Greco-Roman antiquity, the Athenian, Theophrastus (c. 371 – c. 287 BC), a contemporary of Aristotle and Plato, is often considered the father of botany; his Historia Plantarum (‘Enquiry into Plants’) proving influential right through to the Italian Renaissance. Books dedicated to describing herbs and plants and their properties and uses are known as herbals. Such books proved popular with doctors and apothecaries throughout the entire Middle Ages.
Informal is not an adjective that readily comes to mind in describing anything in the type catalogue of New York foundry, Hoefler & Co. From the highly formal sparkle of Renaissance inspired text romans like Requiem through its humanist sans, Ideal Sans, to the precision and aplomb of the shaded and layered Obsidian, all walk the page with a decidedly formal poise. Perhaps the closest they have come to informality is in the beautiful cursive letterforms in the italic styles of the recently released ‘non-typewriter typewriter face’, Operator – but again, informal those letters are not.
David Ricardo (1772–1823) was a versatile man. A stock trader, politician and, most importantly, an economist. He is considered the first of the classical economists, thus symbolizing the transition from mercantilism to capitalism. While his theories are mostly derived from mathematical abstractions, he communicated his ideas in understandable, down-to-earth language. Besides a versatile man, Ricardo is also a versatile typeface that bridges the gap between geometrical and humanist typeface design.
Recipes are as old as eating and recorded recipes date back to the invention of writing, with the most ancient examples from Mesopotamia, written in Akkadian cuneiform and dating to about 1750 BC. From late Imperial Rome, a collection of recipes from the late fourth or early fifth century, commonly referred to as Apicius, has survived via eighth- and ninth-century manuscript copies. Moreover, dozens of recipe books have survived from the Middle Ages, including the tenth-century Baghdadi cookbook by Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq and the fourteeth-century treatise on cookery and cooking techniques, Le Viandier, written by Guillaume Taillevent, chef to the Court of Charles V of France. The book includes a section on dishes for the sick, in which barley gruel and, naturally, chicken soup is recommended.