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Design notes: Dover Display

Dover Display is a long-running exploration of the quintessential British types. It is an attempt at historical design fiction: what if Caslon and Gill Sans had been designed by the same person? What if that person were me?

With every revival, new eyes assess old ideas. Some of these ideas remain strong, and those may be exaggerated. Conversely, some of the original design ideas just don’t seem to make much sense anymore. To juggle this responsibly and respectfully is a humbling task.

A little bit of Caslon,
and a little bit of Gill.

Dover started development in 2012. A range of prints from very large Caslons, idiosyncratic design variations within the different point sizes of the lead Gill Sans, a few scans from the Haas Caslons (courtesy of Kai Bernau) for text, Penguin book covers – it covered a wide gamut of reference. I mixed all of this with the vague notion of what they were ‘supposed’ to look like, and a few months later scrapped it all to start over.

From the start, Dover would be matched across its styles: sans and serif would both come with the same range of OpenType features, glyphs and language support. It takes some of the guess-work out of matching typefaces, and expands on what the basic repertoire of a sans-serif typeface can be.

Some very baroque shapes,
some very humanist ideas.

Acknowledgements

Dover Display would not have been possible without the endless support from Kai Bernau. I received valuable feedback over the years from Frode Helland, Stefan Ellmer, David Jonathan Ross, Erik van Blokland, Christoph Bergmann and Håvard Gjelseth.

☛ See and buy Dover Display, starting at €40 per style