Design Studio: Typography (Project 4 – 20th century type)

8 years


This project requires you to design an information panel featuring aspects of type and typography from a particular decade of the 20th century. The panel is to be designed for display at a temporary exhibition at the State Library of Victoria. It is a free public exhibition on typography, type design and related technology of the 20th century, presenting the material chronologically by decade as a combination of full colour large format information panels and objects/artefacts.

My Decade:


Suggested process:

  1. Investigate the various aspects within the nominated decade. Collect a lot of related information, as quickly as you can, about what was happening in the typographic/design world in that period.
  2. Select the three aspects to work with in consultation with your eLA. Carefully consider the significance and relationship of the components.
  3. Continue researching, image sourcing and referencing. Make sure you record and provide evidence of the source material.
  4. Record your process for your Design Process Document using the Design process document brief (AdditionalResources/Design-process-document-brief.html).
  5. Present a project proposal and work in progress in Week 9.
  6. Thumbnail layout and design sketching and development
  7. Begin execution and present work in progress Week 11 (tile output at scale).
  8. Critique, review and continue to refine and develop design and layout.
  9. Finesse the typographic detailing.
  10. Source suitable printer and check file for accuracy and completeness.
  11. Print A1 information panel, submit print, PDF file and design process documentation.

Week 7 to 8

Week 7

Before I begin investigation into my decade (1960s) I thought it would be interesting to share a brief assumption of what I think about the decade and compare it to my results after research.

When I think about the 1960s, I consider it one where there was a lot of change. Where movements evolved that allowed a lot of freedom in the way that people lived and a universal response and rebellion to the conformity of earlier generations, as well as vocalisation and voices of the people being heard. Typographically, I don’t yet find anything specific that I can recall. Perhaps the use of bolder typefaces, humanistic and decoration and colour in tune with the movements and humanities that used them… of course, this could all be completely wrong and that is why research is key!

After conducting quick research into the 1960s, I discovered that it was a very intense, complicated, multi-layered period in the 20th century that had many different aspects all mashing together. You had the rise of the corporate identity (and the large use of Helvetica), the Vietnam war (and large bodies of protest), civil rights movement, John F Kennedy, man on the moon and many more things.  For our activity this week I created several mood boards that focussed on; World Events & Cultural Importance, Corporate Identity, Advertising, Posters, Typefaces and Protest Posters. I have also created a Pinterest board (see below).


Mood Boards


Week 8

My Three Aspects

I am not 100% sure on which will be my final selection at the moment, so have included potential aspects I could focus on….

Choice: Proposed

  1. Typeface: Helvetica
  2. Typographic Technology: Phototypesetting with CRT (Cathode Ray Tube)
  3. Typographer: Wim Crouwel

Wim Crouwel was influenced by the International Typographic Style and using a grid system in design. I have chosen Helvetica as the typeface because it was a popular sans serif font that conveyed many of the requirements of modern/functional design. I have also selected the technology of phototypesetting with CRT because it was a developed technology during this time, and importantly connected to Crouwel, because he designed an experimental typeface ‘New Alphabet’ that was based on the limitations of the CRT monitors.

Choice 1:

  1. Typeface: Sabon
  2. Typographic technology: Phototypesetting (CRT)
  3. Typographer: Jan Tschichold

Note: I am interested in Jan Tschichold because of his involvement in the International Typographic Style and use of modern techniques and use of grid layouts to create designs without ornament, in a functional way. He designed the type family Sabon.

Choice 2:

  1. Typeface: OCR A
  2. Typographic technology: Phototypesetting (CRT)
  3. Typographer: Adrian Frutiger

Note: Adrian Frutiger designed the typeface OCR A to be recognised by both human and digital technologies. He is also the designer of many type families that are still very popular today (Frutiger, Univers, Avenir and more)

Choice 4:

  1. Typeface: DigiGrotesk (1968)
  2. Typographic technology: Digiset
  3. Typographer: Hermann Zapf

Note: I have selected this possible combination, because the typeface (DigiGrotesk) was designed for the technology (Digiset), and the typographer (Hermann Zapf) worked on providing digital typefaces for the technology. This is not my preferred choice to use in a poster design, because I have a greater interest in the Swiss design and use of the typographic grid structure and Modernism, however it is a rather logical choice in some ways…

Important points of relevance

  1. Conflict/changes within society, particularly as a result of; Vietnam war, civil rights and cultural shift between the ‘establishment’ and realistic human values.
  2. Corporate Identity and the branding of corporations/companies.
  3. Use of the grid system employed in graphic design/typography to promote order and continuity (as well as the purposeful ‘breaking’ of the grid employed by designers that wanted to distance the coalition to the ‘manufactured’ and use greater personal expression.).
  4. Colour matching system developed by Pantone in 1963.

Typeface/family used in 1960s

I have listed type families that are confirmed with a date created within the range of 1960 to 1970 from FontShop. I discovered that many websites had dates that varied, with when a typeface was first used and when it was officially launched. For consistency, I have gathered type families as listed in Typographic Design (2012, p. 335).

  1. Aachen (1969) by Colin Brignall
  2. Americana (1965) by Richard Isbell
  3. Antique Olive (1962 – 66) by Roger Excoffon
  4. Avant Garde Gothic (1967) by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase
  5. Cartier (1967) by Carl Dair
  6. DigiGrotesk (1968) by Hell Design Studio
  7. Egyptian 505 (1966) by André Gürtler
  8. Eurostile (1962) by Aldo Novarese
  9. Friz Quadrata (1965) by Ernest Friz
  10. ITC Souvenir (1970) by Edward Benguiat
  11. Machine (1970) by Tom Carnase and Ron Bonder
  12. OCR A (1965) by American Type Founders / Adrian Frutiger
  13. Octavian (1961) by Will Carter and David Kindersley
  14. Olympian (1970) Matthew Carter
  15. Sabon (1966) by Jan Tschichold
  16. Serifa (1967) by Adrian Frutiger
  17. Snell Roundhand (1965) by Matthew Carter
  18. Syntax (1968) by Hans E. Meier

It is also important to note the large usage or Helvetica (1957 by Max Miedinger) throughout the 1960s.

Of the typefaces created in the 1960s and listed here, 6 are listed in the 100 Top Typefaces of all time. These are; OCR (#22), Avant Garde (#23), Sabon (#25), Eurostile (#33), Syntax (#35) and Antique Olive (#51). Helvetica that was used heavily throughout this period, is still listed at #1!

Typesetting/typographic technology from 1960s

  • Typewriters (1961 – font ball)
  • Phototypesetting with CRT (Cathode Ray Tube)
  • Digiset (1966 – digital typesetting machine, DigiGrotesk was designed in 1968 and was the first digital font!)
  • Offset printing (introduction of electronic process)
  • Lithography (with improved technology)
  • Laser Printer (1969 invented, not released)
  • Dot Matrix Printer (1970)

1960s Typographers

List of typographers active and popular within the period 1960 to 1970. Information gathered from Design Is History and Linotype.

  • Adrian Frutiger (1928 – 2015)
  • Aldo Novarese (1920 – 1995)
  • George Lois (1931 – )
  • Gunter Gerhard Lange (1921 – 2008)
  • Hans Eduard Meier (1922 – 2014)
  • Herb Lubalin (1918 – 1981)
  • Hermann Zapf (1918 – 2015)
  • Jan Tschichold (1902 – 1974)
  • Josef Müller-Brockmann (1914 – 1996)
  • Karl Gerstner (1930 – )
  • Massimo Vignelli (1931–2014)
  • Milton Glaser (1929 – )
  • Otl Aicher (1922 – 1991)
  • Paul Rand (1914 – 1996)
  • Roger Excoffon (1910 – 1983)
  • Saul Bass (1920–1996)
  • Seymour Chwast (1931 – )
  • Wim Crouwel (1928 – )
  • Wolfgang Weingart (1941 – )

1960s design movements

  • International Typographic Style (Swiss Design)
  • The New York School
  • Pop Art
  • Psychedelia (Psychedelic)
  • Corporate Identity

Significant/influential typographic design works from the period

Karl Gerstner, National Zeitung, 1960


(Source: LiveAuctioneers, 2016)

Herb Lubalin, No More War, Avant Garde Magazine, 1967


(Source: Fonts In Use, 2016)

George Lois, Coldene ad, 1960–61


Source: Fonts In Use, 2016

George Lois, Esquire Cover, October 1966


Source: Magazine Designing, 2016

Paul Rand – Listen! Listen! 


(Source: Flickr)

Layout Sketches


Mood Boards



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Day, B. C. R. M. P. (2012). Typographic Design Form and Communication. Chichester : Wiley. Retrieved from

Design Is History. (n.d.). Home : Design Is History. Retrieved from

Samara, T. (2005). Making and breaking the grid a graphic design layout workshop. Rockport Publishers. Retrieved from

4 Responses

  1. In my opinion every period in history had it’s influence on everything. As you said above the ’60s was a period where a lot of things happened and people went through some changes. Will you post your design here? I would love to see it.

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