Designer: Hubert Jocham
Typeface: LTA identity
Design consultancy: Citigate Lloyd Northover
Client: Singapore Land Transport Authority
Citigate Lloyd Northover was approached to create a major new signage programme for Singapore Land Transport Authority, a government authority responsible for all land-based transport, including trains, trams, and buses. It involves a complex implementation process which is being rolled out across a broad range of applications, taking in transport modes and station names, signage and titles.
As well as providing functional information, the programme is intended to create an identity for the authority, unifying the various working parts of the organisation under one recognisable banner. The typeface – which will be used in English – is supported by a range of stylised visual devices and imagery to help communicate in the multi-lingual context of Singapore.
Though the typeface was conceived and developed in-house at Citigate Lloyd Northover, it was drawn and refined in Germany by typographer Hubert Jocham. But it’s look and feel is anything but cold and middle European. ‘If you look at transport signage in any major Western city – from New York to Paris to Berlin – the typefaces are hard-edged and functional,’ says CLN vice-chairman Jim Northover. ‘We thought that it would be interesting to give this one a completely different flavour.’
Instead of basing the font on traditional Roman stone-cut letterforms, the face takes its inspiration from calligraphic shapes drawn with a brush pen. ‘It has a flavour of the Far East and apes the character of regional scripts,’ says Northover. ‘But it deliberately isn’t too quirky. It would be easy to be patronising and get into the realms of bamboo lettering.’
In this instance, a custom font was needed to meet the unusual multi-dimensional requirements of the brief – it had to work in terms of functionality and overall identity, while at the same time displaying a sensitivity to local context and aesthetics. There can’t be very many ready-made fonts which would have done the job so effectively.