On my quest to be plastic-free I started to use shampoo and conditioner bars, soon my shower was full of bars. But once out of their packaging I could not for the life of me remember what was what.
Did I just wash my bum with the Facewash?
It was confusing and if I was not committed to plastic-free I might have thrown in the hand towel right then and there. With a background in Typography, letters in the bars seemed to be an obvious solution to help people navigate the world of plastic-free bathroom products.
Wayfinding is the actual term, it refers to information systems that guide people through a physical environment to enhance their experience, for example, airport signage. A beautiful and very successful example of wayfinding design is the signage of the London Underground Railway, but I don’t want to spoil the punchline to this article straight away.
As I brainstormed with my partner Katie we also realised that by making the letters large, you would be able to see what product you were using even when your glasses were off (as they usually are in the shower) and for those with more serious visual impairment they could also be felt with the fingers.
Of course, the letters do not last forever (using the back of the bar helps them last), but after a while, you get to know these little beauties intimately, the scent, colour and the textural differences help to keep you on track.
Oh and in case you haven’t worked it out;
If you are a designer, typographer, art director or just love history, read on.
The typeface used in our bars is Johnston Underground. It was designed by Edward Johnston, CBE (11 February 1872 – 26 November 1944) was a British craftsman and England’s foremost calligrapher. It’s first appearance in the London Underground Railway was in 1915 just before the beginning of WWI, 105 years later his typeface Johnston Underground is still in use today.
In my opinion, Johnston Underground is one of the most beautiful of all San Serif typefaces – it demonstrates the beauty and power of typography as a communication tool. Edward Johnston’s combination of letters with the proportions of classical Roman inscriptional capitals embodies an understanding of the history of letterforms in every detail and has created a typeface that serves, perfectly, it’s original purpose: to direct commuters and to stand separately from the advertising that would be surrounding it.
How perfect are these capital letters. Edward Johnston was the first to create a Sans-Serif based on Roman Classical Proportions.
Classic, simple and beautiful
Johnston had designed his typeface to be a break from the noise and bombardment of Edwardian advertising, the industrial revolution had started and ended and a new era of mass-produced, readily made products meant advertising and posters had flooded the scene of the underground which clogged the routes of the commuter. Johnston Underground was designed to absolutely not be mistaken for advertising.
Johnston Underground was ‘the first typeface to have been designed for day-to-day use by a leading artist-craftsman.’3 and that it's still being used 100 years after it's conception is a testament to the beauty and the usefulness of this typeface. The typeface’s design is beautiful, simple and comfortable, the perfect typeface to help you find your way around Nuebar.
So there you have it, the history and reason behind our choice of Johnston Underground as the lead font in our bars and brand. When we say care, craft and consciousness go into every aspect of every product we create, we mean it. We hope you love the product and hope you collect the whole NueBar alphabet.
Please keep your eyes out for our upcoming blog on our other key NueBar fonts, Albertus by Berthold Wolpe and Joanna by Eric Gill.
- Johnston, E. (1987). Writing & illuminating, & lettering. London: A & C Black.
- Johnston, P. (1976). Edward Johnston. London: Barrie and Jenkins.
- Lupton, E. (2014). Thinking with type. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press.
- Poulin, R. (2012). Graphic design + architecture, a 20th-century history. Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers.
- Ovenden, M. (2018). London underground by design. Penguin Books Ltd.