Sandberg Institute Bill

Our friends over at LUST developed the design of the new website and identity of the Sandberg Institute, based on the metaphor of the institute as a library. They asked us to design a new typeface – Bill – and help them integrate it into a type system that constitutes the centrepiece of Sandberg’s identity.

Bill connects the past (history) with the future (digital possibilities) of type design by posing the question “What can a typeface be in the 21st century?” The liberation of typefaces from their physical embodiments allows for new possibilities, where the interactive and dynamic affordances of our contemporary screen-based culture can be used to create typefaces subject to mutation and interaction.

Adding behaviour to a typeface lets us address typography in an anthropological way: the user can not only decide the context of the type or the content it communicates, but also directly manipulate the typeface’s form.

To fit with the humanistic metaphor of the library, long-form reading typefaces were important starting points for this design: 19th century serif typefaces with their proverbial utility, and the early vernacular sans serif for its humane and clunky derivation from traditional forms.

Bill defines its voice through the peculiarities of its design process. We employed two approaches to drawing type and allowed them to influence each other: Bill was simultaneously drawn as a functional text face for continuous reading, and as a more experimental skeleton that can be transformed along multiple axes to generate infinite iterations of the typeface.

The idiosyncrasies of both approaches were not ironed out, but allowed to amplify each other, such as in affordances that were originally added to the skeleton form to allow for larger weight variation.

Speaking as the voice of a multi-layered and forward-oriented institution as the Sandberg, Bill is mutable and humane, and stand in for the many voices and points of view it represents. It is at the same time a harbinger of the new, and respectful to the past.

For Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam, 2013. Commissioned by Lust, The Hague. Two styles, Regular and Hairline, as well as a meta-skeleton for their typeface generator.

Not available for licensing.