The pleasure of fine typography

I came across this today: an exhibition piece showing off the calligraphic qualities of Robert Slimbach’s OpenType Brioso. Rhythm, order and freedom; sense, too, because the layout adds to the meaning of the words.

Stanley Morison (1889–1967) was a type designer and historian of type best known these days for his design of a familiar (understatement) typeface for The Times.

This lovely thing comes from a beautiful 46-page booklet that is an unusual example of excellent corporate sponsorship, by Adobe Systems, of skilled craftsmanship. Monotype precedents from the 1930s still resonate after 80 years. How to add value to your brand.

Brioso Morison quote

This is a very good instance of something being an example of itself. It seems full to me – I can’t describe what this means. I was wondering if there is a special and happy category of things that knowingly do what they are. It is not just a matter of the skill that went into making them. A beautifully designed and handcrafted table is not an example of itself. It is meaningless to say that it knowingly is a table – it is a table. What about art objects? They are knowing, but do they do anything? Might we say their purpose – if they have a purpose at all – is to be themselves? Can only commercial media – media with a purpose – knowingly do and be in the way this typography does and is? Can anybody think of examples outside print/typography? I have brain ache. This sounds like a good point to stop …

Many thanks to Gerald Fleuss for the recommendation.

About Propagandum

I’ve been working in book publishing for over 30 years – an industry now in rapid transition. So I’m interested in foundational principles for media, writing and language – what lessons can we learn for how we can and should communicate? How can we make sense of media/technology? Can we transfer some skills from the old to the new? I hope to share (every week-ish) some things I think are wonderful, rich and important. I write longish posts because our complex and fascinating world cannot be reduced to soundbites. Please let me know what you think – contact me at
This entry was posted in Business, Media analysis, Typography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The pleasure of fine typography

  1. The type (sorry!) of thing one reads Propagandum for.

    • Propagandum says:

      Thank you – it’s a pleasure to bring this to wider notice. I’m trying to post more often, and make them shorter/lighter. Unfortunately for my new policy, wonderful things like this are rare.

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