London Gatwick Typeface

Bendy's picture

I thought this might be a custom Dalton Maag effort (as is similar to Tesco's and Vodafone fonts), but have been googling around for ages and turned up nothing anywhere. This font is used on train station signs in London Victoria, London Bridge and Gatwick Airport.

Robert Trogman's picture

It's very close to Arial

Bendy's picture

Maybe it's not such a great picture. It's quite different to Arial, in real life.

JoergGustafs's picture

Close to Arial? Whoah, that’s mean

marcox's picture

It has some similarities to Bliss by Jeremy Tankard.

Thingy's picture

This is the railway station isn't it? so I suspect the face is Brunel.

J Weltin's picture

It’s a commissioned type called Brunel.

riccard0's picture

Apparently by The Foundry. Not to be confused with this Brunel:
http://www.moderntypography.com/Typedesign/Brunel/index.html

Bendy's picture

How extraordinary, there doesn't seem to be any evidence of this 'Brunel' on the internet; even the designers' website doesn't mention it. I'm designing a humanist signage font, and have already consulted Tankard's Bliss, so wanted some other sources besides Johnston Underground and Transport.

Thanks for the pointers though.

forrest's picture

Whoa. Those signs are beautiful and clear.

Nick Job's picture

Juergen and Thingy are bang on, it's a typeface called Brunel and is used on the dozen-plus mainline stations on Network Rail that are not owned/operated by individual train operating companies (TOCs). Rather like its predecessor, Rail Alphabet, it exists in positive and negative formats. I have a feeling it is now being used on South West Trains stations out of London Waterloo.

IIRC the typeface itself was designed by David Quay on behalf of an agency for Network Rail (then Railtrack), the name of which escapes me at present, after the 1994 privatisation/dismantling of British Rail. The system was nice - each station had its own sub-idents within the main branding framework.

I'll try to post more tomorrow... (I'm not on my normal machine).

BTW, Ben, I'm loving your work (and the influences you cite). Got a whole lot of time for Carnet and am now enjoying looking at your flickr site.

Bendy's picture

Hey Nick, that's fantastic — thanks for those details and the link.

I'm delighted you're enjoying my work; if you'd like to give a deeper crit of Carnet, I could certainly use it over in this thread.

Nick Job's picture

Ben, I've found a pdf of the font (four weights, two positive and two negative, but its just the alphabet, no numerals, punctuation etc.). I must have downloaded it back in the day or been sent it by someone else. Do you want it?

There was also a website at the time which had a presentation about Brunel but I can't find that anywhere, I guess it went a year or two ago.

I suppose you could approach David Quay himself...

davidquay's picture

I can confirm that it is Brunel which Freda Sack and I designed as an independent commission apart from The Foundry in 1997/8.

Nick Job's picture

Hi David, what happened to that lovely microsite that accompanied the launch of Brunel? I seem to remember spending ages drooling over it!

Bendy's picture

Thanks for stopping by, David, I'm quite admiring Brunel. Is there some reason it's not more widely publicised, and is it likely ever to be?

Nick: I'd love a look at that pdf, what luck you have it! Would you be able to e-mail me at ohbendy(a)hotmail(dot)com? Many thanks.

davidquay's picture

It it exclusive to British Rail. We can never release ourselves and would not want to. Later we made Foundry Sterling which has both the influence of Brunel and another corporate font that we did earlier for British Gas.

It a compliment that it has influenced other designers work. I am not aware of the Tesco typeface, does it have some resemblance to Brunel?

Nick Job's picture

David, I didn't have you down as an Aldi shopper ;)

Here is the Tesco font by the good people at Dalton Maag. I would say similarities are there, albeit Tesco has some softer curves (which may or may not assist in distance legibility, a factor in which Ben is almost certainly concerning himself with his Carnet design).

Is there a pdf of the complete Brunel font somewhere?

davidquay's picture

Hi Nick, I shop at Albert Heijn on the Nieuwmart 'op de Dam'.

No a complete pdf of the font does not exist and I think it prudent not have one in the current climate of plagiarism.

The Tesco font would put me off shopping there! I can see there are some resemblances but these maybe just part of a general influence of the English tradition that designers such as Jeremy Tankard has also tried to achieve in his designs. Jeremy whose I much admire worked at Wolff Olins as a graphic designer, we were also doing commissioned for them at this time. We seemed to be working in the same area without realising it until later, trying to pin down an English approach that had its roots in Granby, Gill and Johnston and further back into 19th century sans. I think Jeremy did some work for the Heathrow Express which also has this 'Englishness' about it. I think we all achieved what we set out to do, Jeremy with his wonderful Bliss and The Foundry with Foundry Sterling.

Nick Job's picture

David, I understand your apprehension when it comes to publishing pdfs. Nevertheless, it is great to be able to study fine work in detail and seems a shame that genuine students, eager to improve, gain knowledge, hone skills etc., suffer because there are one or two whose behaviour is utterly reprehensible.

It's not the typeface that puts me off shopping at Tesco, its the fact that they are or at least seem intent on taking over the world. Their logo has needed the 'Miles Newlyn' (viz Sainsbury's) treatment for years and always strikes me as having unnecessarily large overshoots. (They do a nice Cumberland sausage on their deli although you can probably get better at Albert Heijn!)

davidquay's picture

Beste Nick, Cumberland sausages mmmm...., I can smell them cooking now as I type and with a nice dollop of Daddies sauce on the side! We don't have such good sausages here as it is not part of the Dutch eating culture. Also would make a nice name for a typeface!

In the near future I intend to include the history of our corporate typefaces on my website. I'll make a nice showing of the Brunel fonts (Yellow Pages too) and if anyone is interested they can always get in touch and I send them a pdf.

Would be interesting for a student to write it all up as a thesis. It was an exciting period for me the 90s, looking back I think we all did some great work even though the 'design writer' Emily King rubbishes most of it.

Bendy's picture

I'll look forward to reading the history of Brunel when it's live on the website. I'm particularly interested in what you did to make it legible and how you tested that.

I'd love to see a pdf of Foundry Sterling, if you have one; the sample on your website (unless I'm mistaken) is rather small. It looks very similar to Brunel? (My e-mail address is in my previous post.)

BTW I was misremembering the Tesco font (on inspection I rather don't like the way 'custom' fonts all tend to rely on random serifs and/or angling/cutting stroke terminals instead of building on a solid design concept).

All this talk of sausages is making me hungry...

davidquay's picture

Hi Bendy, That is one reason, except in a few circumstances I gave up doing custom fonts, The clients wish to see something obviously different by adding meaningless details. I am working on a new commissioned font for a city in the West of England at the moment, with type colleague Ramiro Espinoza and here we have the chance to work with highly intelligent and educated clients. We hope we have designed something lasting and very worthwhile. Tesco font is typical of an uneducated client and a designer who panders to their requests. I will prepare a screen shot of Sterling for you.

Crosslinker's picture

Here are all the icons that were designed for each Major Station:
http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Reviews/network_rail_station_symbo.html

And a small image of the whole typeface:

http://bit.ly/gu5jdF

Bendy's picture

David, I've just found the section "Quay and Sack" in Hot Designers Make Cool Fonts (1998). It says:

"All the Foundry typefaces are drawn by hand...[they] are untouched by computer technology until all the creative work is done...Individual letters are sketched, edited, and modified several times as renderings on tracing vellum."

I'd love to know more about your process. Particularly, I wondered if you still draw with pencil, even when working with other designers. I'm also wondering how efficient it is to draw letters in isolation rather than trying out different strings as you draw...seems like spacing might be difficult?

davidquay's picture

Hi Bendy, thank you for your interest in my production process. 1998 was a long time ago. Since then I have started to draw on screen but on certain typefaces I still draw with a pencil, first sketching and then with a harder pencil on tracing paper. I usually begin with 'hamburgefontsiv' and I can move the letters around on the table and make various combinations to see how the letters relate to one another. It is probably not an efficient way but then I never worry about being efficient—I am not trying to produce a 48 weight family in on year! I alway feel safer drawing. I know exactly what I am doing whereas drawing on screen I always worry and feel unsure if the line is what I really envisaged. I want the computer to make the compromises to my drawings.

Sketching and drawing is always for me the best and quickest way of realising an idea. That was how I was trained in the pre-Mac days. At art school we had life drawing classes everyday and I was quite good at it, drawing letters is easy after that. I can draw a perfect freehand 's' without recourse to using French curves. I am proud of that skill.

davidquay's picture

Hi Bendy, thank you for your interest in my production process. 1998 was a long time ago. Since then I have started to draw on screen but on certain typefaces I still draw with a pencil, first sketching and then with a harder pencil on tracing paper. I usually begin with 'hamburgefontsiv' and I can move the letters around on the table and make various combinations to see how the letters relate to one another. It is probably not an efficient way but then I never worry about being efficient—I am not trying to produce a 48 weight family in on year! I alway feel safer drawing. I know exactly what I am doing whereas drawing on screen I always worry and feel unsure if the line is what I really envisaged. I want the computer to make the compromises to my drawings.

Sketching and drawing is always for me the best and quickest way of realising an idea. That was how I was trained in the pre-Mac days. At art school we had life drawing classes everyday and I was quite good at it, drawing letters is easy after that. I can draw a perfect freehand 's' without recourse to using French curves. I am proud of that skill.

davidquay's picture

Hi Bendy, thank you for your interest in my production process. 1998 was a long time ago. Since then I have started to draw on screen but on certain typefaces I still draw with a pencil, first sketching and then with a harder pencil on tracing paper. I usually begin with 'hamburgefontsiv' and I can move the letters around on the table and make various combinations to see how the letters relate to one another. It is probably not an efficient way but then I never worry about being efficient—I am not trying to produce a 48 weight family in on year! I alway feel safer drawing. I know exactly what I am doing whereas drawing on screen I always worry and feel unsure if the line is what I really envisaged. I want the computer to make the compromises to my drawings.

Sketching and drawing is always for me the best and quickest way of realising an idea. That was how I was trained in the pre-Mac days. At art school we had life drawing classes everyday and I was quite good at it, drawing letters is easy after that. I can draw a perfect freehand 's' without recourse to using French curves. I am proud of that skill.

Bendy's picture

Thanks David, for the insight into your creative process.

I like what you say about not letting the computer make the compromises to your drawings. I've so far been occupied mainly with simple bezier curves drawn straight on the screen, but have recently also started drawing by hand and then digitising — I know this is a backwards way to learn! I think there's a very different quality and level of complexity in hand-drawing (to match the drawn contours properly, the curves need more nodes). I find both techniques satisfying and I hope, as I develop my own technique, there'll be some interplay between the two.

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