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29.11.2017

The story of READ

The Read project started with an onboard challenge, and evolved towards a much larger ambition: what if Renault created one font for its future? A font that would convey a premium brand strategy, foster convergence and synergy, enable global reach, be legible and fast to read, and prepare the groupe’s ever increasing connectivity.

 

We started the project by conducting a landscape scanning to understand how Groupe Renault could best leverage its font assets across its brand portfolio, and found some interesting challenges to tackle.

It turned out that Groupe Renault was using several retail fonts that had not been developed for them and did not carry a voice expressing the French heritage of the group. In addition to not being distinctive enough, that solution wasn’t global enough. None of them could cover the need for the 127 countries the company operates in, both for licensing and design issues. Finally it was not seamless enough because this variety of fonts that did not work consistently across sizes, medias, contexts, and languages, was damaging the brand perception and created problems for suppliers.

Design-wise, the challenge was to convey a French voice to a typeface that would not fight to be center stage, but rather a companion for the three brands identity typefaces. We imagined two sets of fonts, one with condensed proportions to fit the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) requirements, and one wider for off-board needs. Both share the same design principles, more inspired by script and calligraphy than by geometry and constructivism. Design decisions were also highly influenced by screen display: the typeface had to behave nicely on screen and at low resolutions. The Read typeface has open counters, tight curves, and vertical terminals, features of functionality making it also super-ready for optimized screen display. As a text typeface it is purposefully invisible, inviting readers to delve into the content. It also had to comply with ISO norms for in-vehicles visual presentation.

 

From the start, the design was developed across 10 writing systems (+ one pictographic system). Making sure the design was consistent throughout all these scripts, we worked hand in hand with native expert type-designers. Gerry Leonidas for Greek, Sarang Kulkarni for Devanagari, Bahman Eslami for Arabic, Daniel Grumer for Hebrew, Ben Mitchell and Anuthin Wongsunkakon for Thaï, Joe Chang for Japanese, Minjoo Ham for Korean, Miao Zhang and Ye Chang Chun for Chinese. Together with this wonderful team we made sure to respect each script integrity while making a truly global font.

 

The eleventh script, is a pictographic and iconographic system that also shares design features of the typeface. More that two thousand symbols have been design for both on-board and off-board use, enabling the group to communicate intuitively with its customers.