Behind the Type
Behind the Type: A Centaur, Two Doves, and Some Mysterious Frenchmen covers over 400 years to bring together the cultural and historical stories behind the creation of two typefaces: Garamond and Centaur. The first question is, “Who really cares about the history of typography?” The answer is that the design of typefaces, like all complicated and collaborative endeavors, is ripe with all the personal ambitions, achievements, failures, dramatic breakthroughs, romances, and betrayals so common to the human condition. Stories behind the type are often every bit as interesting as those smeared across the pages in tabloids and celebrity gossip rags. What they reveal is that typography and the evolution of type design is shaped both by the trajectory of history and the individual acts of unique personalities. Surprisingly, my research lead to a unifying character across these two disparate stories in the person of (spoiler alert!) Beatrice Warde, best known for her metaphor typography as a crystal goblet.
The book’s design furthers the story through the layering, distorting, revealing, hiding, or otherwise playing with elements of the written text. Over the course of the book’s three sections, the typography and colors continually shift while moments of narrative framing are met with graphic framing devices. The book aims to demonstrate that, unlike the crystal goblet metaphor, the content and form of a story are ultimately inseparable; the purpose is manifest in the material.