FS Industrie variable type specimens

Tamasin Handley Inspiration
29 Mar’18

For the launch of new adaptive type system FS Industrie Fontsmith worked with UK/Canada-based design studio and long term collaborator Believe in®. The campaign started at the end of 2017 when a survey was sent out to the creative industry named the ‘Future of Work’. Over 400 designers submitted their answers to questions relating to their work and where they think the industry is headed. The data collected was used throughout the printed type specimen forming the central element of the FS Industrie launch campaign. In total 1,200 editions were produced and of these 1,000 were personalised for their recipients. Individual names were printed into the booklets and content blocks were randomised using high tech variable printing methods. This meant each copy was completely unique. Recipient names were also laser cut into each cover via a series of apertures using a traditional ‘Punched Card’ alphabet.

A further 200 unpersonalised editions were printed, 100 of which were made available for sale in the Fontsmith Shop.

    Laser cut using a ‘Punched Card’ alphabet

Two datasets were used in the specimen’s design. The original survey data was used to create content, while mailing data was used to personalise different sections, using the recipient’s name, employer and location.

The cover is laser cut and printed with white ink on Amethyst Colorplan, and the text section is digitally printed on Mohawk Ultrafine Eggshell. G F Smith supplied all the paper used throughout the campaign. Each specimen has a letterpress print by one of ten global design studios slotted into the front cover.

    Variable data and content in each specimen

Type design director Phil Garnham said:

“FS Industrie is an adaptive type system offering huge possibilities for designers. To showcase this sort of project we needed to approach the specimen in a different way. With 70 different variants to play with from narrow to extended on the width axis and thin to black in the weights the idea to use variable content played perfectly to the fonts adaptability.”

Believe in® creative director Blair Thomson added:

“The idea behind the campaign connects our industrial past to our technological future, combining traditional and more recent production methods and pushing the limits of what’s currently possible. So many type specimens are designed to be seen but not read, so the intention was to create something that would feel more engaging to our audience.”

    Each specimen comes with a letterpress print.

Believe in® strategic director Tim Burley said:

“It was a particularly challenging production process, due to the sheer number of steps involved. The variable nature meant that we were happy to embrace some risk, while taking precautions to minimise it at every stage. For the laser cutting, each recipient’s name was converted into a series of image ‘slices’; the resulting PDF proofs ran to over 30,000 pages!”

Specimens are for sale in the Fontsmith Shop.

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