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The line-up: Fonts of knowledge
By Natalie Whittle
You need only look at scrawled Christmas thank-you letters to see the heroic effort children put into handwriting. Developing a legible script is an important feature of literacy, and the National Handwriting Association campaigns to keep the cause a live one.
Castledown Primary in Hastings took the problem seriously enough to commission its own font from specialist type agency Colophon Foundry. It wanted fonts to use in printed materials such as door signs and letters to parents, and in a cursive version for pupils to imitate.
The result, the Castledown type family, was shortlisted last week for the Designs of the Year 2014 at the Design Museum. Colophon designers Anthony Sheret and Edd Harrington began by holding workshops at the school. “We evaluated the writing style and general letterform DNA that was taught to the children. This was translated and helped to inform the final forms of the letters, as well as giving us information such as how combinations of letters should join.”
Colophon works on bespoke typography projects as well as commercial releases but saw the Castledown commission as unique: “It was something that had not been done and was out of our normal scope and range of work.”
The opportunity for better “school typography” will not be restricted to Hastings. When the Designs of the Year exhibition opens next month, the Castledown type family will be available through the Colophon Foundry. Watch out for it in next year’s thank-you notes.