Antony Harrington is passionate with type. It is partly the job of doing well fonts to be invisible and as such they are usually overlooked. Johnston Sans, as it occur, is the font of London Underground. Harrington wants everybody to know this and is inviting fellow enthusiasts to draw a typographic map of the capital. He wants to use contemporary technology to record great or endangered examples of lettering to show the unique and quiet way the words around us can help shape the identity of a place and how we feel about it.
I meet Harrington, a partner at a branding and design company in north London, outside the Covent Garden Tube station, where lunchtime shoppers steer a course about two men behaving strangely. We are doing what few Londoners ever do, looking up to admire the Underground’s unambiguous roundel sign, as well as the more ornate typeface used on the station’s façade. After a little minutes I reach for my phone, starts the app Harrington has devised and takes a photo. I write a caption and upload the image to the London Typographic website, where it is added to a map of the city now spotted with examples of type.
Harrington admits to being a font geek, but says there’s a motive we should all look with fresh eyes at the words in our own towns and cities. Typefaces work well as tiny milestones. They anchor a building to a time and a function, whether it’s profitable or social, and this is a heritage worth preserving.