Using Typeface to Shape a City's Identity

by fontspace

Most people can't name the font they see on the London underground or the Paris streets. Most people aren't even consciously aware that many cities have a unifying font. However those who work in city planning and typography know that typefaces are integral to a city's identity and sense of cohesion. A city in the Netherlands is using a new typeface to help define  a transitioning identity. 

Before the 1980s, Phillips, the electronics company, was to the Dutch city Eindhoven what Google is to Silicon Valley. During the 80s and 90s, the company began to slowly shift beyond the city limits. In 1997, Phillips moved its main office to Amsterdam. This had a major effect on the Eindhoven. The Guardian reports: 

"Like a lover scorned, Eindhoven needed to go out and get itself a makeover. Technology and design sectors blossomed, and many of the old factories became homes to creative start-ups. As part of the effort to rebrand itself, it seemed apt that Eindhoven should turn to an aspect of design – namely, typeface."

After considering a multitude of options, the city settled on a font with missing corners, producing a "slightly rough-around-the-edges" look. It symbolized a once-industrial city going through a major transition. 

Phillips was central to Eindhoven's identity, and when the company left it was as if the city itself was disoriented. As Eindhoven works to redefine itself, a new font helps inspire a sense of unity and identity. 

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