Sahara Bodoni


Sahara Bodoni is a lushly elegant ultra heavy display face based on Bodoni. It was designed by Bob Alonso in 1996 and published by his company BA Graphics. Alonso was a highly regarded and skilled lettering artist. He gained much of his experience working with type designers Ed Benguiat, Tony Stan and Vic Caruso at the New York based Photo-Lettering Inc (known as PLINC), a company that pioneered photocomposition in the 1930s. PLINC closed in the 1980s, and in 2003, House Industries bought the entire physical assets of PLINC—material amount to 42 cubic metres.



There’s a dingbat for everything. This thunderstorm comes from the Eclectics character set. Eclectics, designed by Pepper Tharp, has all manner of dingbats you thought you never needed, but this thunderstorm is just right for the extreme low pressure system that is bringing lashing rain and wild squalls to the NSW east coast this week.



While I am not a patron of this fast food joint, I am not oblivious to its presence. In Sydney, McDonalds occupies some of the finest converted sandstone buildings, and although I would prefer to see less of these red and yellow ‘restaurants’, at least they are occupying the beautiful old buildings rather than knocking them down. In Hawaii, I was amused to see the location’s influence on the signage. The buildings I saw were nothing special, but the aloha spirit is ubiquitous! The shape of the h and lower case a indicate that the typeface is probably Helvetica Heavy.



Also at the Ulupalakua Ranch is this sign. I’m not certain—because I was too busy admiring the carved sleeve and pointing finger—but I’m pretty sure pedestrians are being thanked for keeping to the path, as the writing appears on both sides. I particularly like the pointing device, which made me laugh because this type of formal attire—white cuff, navy blue jacket with buttons—is such a rare sight in the Hawaiian islands, where the aloha shirt is de rigueur. The typeface is Brush Script.



Straight to the point! None of this diesel or ethanol or super or standard or vortex or 95 or 98 or lpg or 4c-off-with-voucher business. Just fuel. I love this no nonsense declaration, with its rusty streaks and bold red sans serif letters. In the country town, where I saw this, the message is unmistakable, but location plays a big part in its inherent communication. In the city, this could equally be a cafe, an overpriced grocer, an industrial-chic hangout for the weekend chillseeker, and the asymmetric shape would be interpreted as organic rather than aged and weathered.

Another chemist


Here’s another chemist, another collection of type styles. The sheer lack of harmony saves it from being a complete mess. Actually, it is a complete mess, a typographic disaster area and design catastrophe! Perhaps its saving grace is that there has been no attempt to update the older vertical sign and the mortar and pestle to match the newer awning sign of the chain pharmacy.

Gnome Alley


Not only do the gnomes have a new home, but this time there is no fear of them being ousted, because they now have their own street sign. I liked how my view of the sign sat with the garden centre sign a little further down the street. There’s a mess of typefaces here, although the mix is fairly restrained compared to that which can be seen in the main streets of the seaside towns nearby.



This signwritten Regent is not exactly the same as the digital font version, but there’s no mistaking the striking likeness to the Broadway font family. The shadowy vertical type of the unlit neon sign, perhaps more recent than the painted counterpart, is Broadway Engraved. Broadway, a decorative Art Deco typeface, was originally designed in 1927 by Morris Fuller Benton for American Type Founders.



Late afternoon, actually, sun low in the sky, that transformed this very ordinary dry-cleaner’s window into something a little more eye-catching. What first attracted me was a reflected ‘yes’ (you can just see the Y in the upper right corner), but here, I like how the strength of the afternoon sun has thrown the shadow of the writing on the window into such sharp relief, and that the angle of the sun has slightly distorted and skewed the letter shapes. The typeface is Arial—most easily distinguished from Helvetica by the shape of the arm on the r.

Murray Hill


Murray Hill is the area of midtown Manhattan bounded by East 34th Street, East 40th Street, Madison Avenue and Third Avenue. The Murray family—shipping and overseas trade merchants—arrived in the 1750s, and soon after rented land from the city for a great house and farm. They built their house, named Inclenberg but popularly called Murray Hill, on the corner of what is now Park Avenue and 36th Street. Murray Hill, the typeface, was designed for the American Type Founders (ATF) in 1956 by Emil J Klumpp. I always imagined that Murray Hill was named for the Manhattan neighbourhood, but in fact the inspiration came from the small town of Murray Hill in New Jersey. There is a connection however: the New Jersey town was founded by Carl H Schultz, whose mineral water business was at one time located in New York’s Murray Hill.