Case Study – Gill Sans
Gill Sans was a typeface produced in the 1920’s by designer Eric Gill. Between 1928 and 1930 Monotype released Gill Sans as a typeface that you could purchase. The typeface was created with new production technologies in mind as well as acknowledging the various requirements of modern day printing needs in an industrial society. The typeface became instantly popular due to its uncomplicated and rational design, which is turn, gained its self to be the font for the Church of England, BBC, Penguin books and North Eastern Railways. The typeface was dominantly used within the public services.
Cecil Dandridge commissioned Gill Sans for the North Eastern Railways identity. The typeface was used on all printed material as well as on their train station nameplates. By adopting Gill Sans as the only typeface that North Eastern Railways used, it created the early idea of corporate identity. The use of a unified look suggested that the company was reliable, consistent and one company rather than an individual companies across different counties or towns. By having an overall voice, the company gives the impression that it is a strong and powerful corporation. This undertaking of one typeface was a significant step forward. By choosing this modern typeface it implied that the company was forward thinking. The rejection the previous Victorian ornamented typeface the company made a bold statement to its user that it was part of a new era.
During the 1930’s the ideas of socialism arose. These ideas were reflected in design. The machine inspired esthetic removed the ideas of individual craftsman and projected the ideas of unity and collaboration. Mass production was seen as a pathway for social progress. The concept that products would be cheaper and quicker to produce would mean that anyone, from any background could purchase the same items. This removal of high priced objects would break down the barriers between different social classes in society.