To create a signage typeface – something that would rival and challenge the small clutch of tried and tested fonts in this discipline where over-familiarity means that they no longer feel contemporary and relevant.
With the fast pace of life, shorter attention spans and the huge practical and cultural impact of technology, how should typography for wayfinding look? There is an argument that personality has no real place in typography for wayfinding, but research suggests that, although functionality is the key priority, a lack of character is likely to subliminally disengage the reader and functionally compromise the attention the information receives. And, is there truly such a thing as a font that is merely functional?
Fontsmith started by researching the wide ranging criteria of what makes a successful signage typeface. Top of the list was legibility and functionality, with the research findings also highlighting that in this fast paced tech-world we demand much more of fonts and how letterforms and words react to differing environment conditions – such as poor lighting, varying viewing perspectives and the need to decipher information in crowded spaces whilst on the move. How the type looks on-screen in various sizes also had to be considered for different devices, apps, route finders and electronic displays as well as in print.
The research had also defined a desire in wayfinding designers for both positive and negative weight sets. So a range of negative weights were created to achieve the correct visual balance between using FS Millbank on a bright or dark colour. Positive and negative tests using the font in varying point sizes on-screen and in print were all used as part of the overall testing process.
On-screen blur tests were developed to replicate halation which distorts text in backlit illuminated displays. Viewing the blurred and distorted letters allowed Stuart to emphasise certain parts where the forms became illegible or difficult to decipher.
No signage font is complete without a set of icons that complement the typeface family. All icons like letters in a typeface, need to relate to each other visually. The FS Millbank icon set comprising of 172 icons covering a wide range of applications from arrows, transport, general information and user interface were designed to help people on their way.
FS Millbank provides the perfect solution whenever optimum clarity is absolutely essential. The overall result is a font with its own distinctive beauty. It flows exquisitely, is defiantly human and brims with personality. Fundamentally, its real power lies in its utterly unbreakable legibility. Researched extensively, FS Millbank has been expertly crafted and developed for its pure clarity.
FS Millbank went on to win a D&AD Pencil and a Red Dot Award.
D&AD Award - Nomination
Red Dot Concept Design Award