Most of us can’t get through a day without reading something in Helvetica or Times New Roman. Monotype, the global type foundry that controls those and many other iconic fonts, recently completed its new London office–and its products took on a very visible architectural role.
Ben Adams Architects designed the U.K. headquarters–one of 15 scattered across the world–with the firm’s craft in mind. Inside the office, you’re greeted with letters–lots and lots of letters. Along with selections of the firm’s famous fonts, like Helvetica, Gill Sans, and Times New Roman, letters from Monotype’s 20,000-font-strong archive dot its walls.
When employees and visitors enter the 3,500-square-foot Shoreditch office, they’re welcomed by a giant letter “M,” a motif which follows them around the office. Designed to flexibly fit 32 workstations as well as collaborative spaces, the office’s central feature is a birch plywood tunnel etched with 1,500 different “M” logos in 750 different typefaces from the company’s robust archives.
The glass walls of the space’s meeting rooms–appropriately named for famous type designers like Beatrice Warde, Stanley Morison, John Dreyfus, Walter Tracy and Tolbert Lanston–are also bedecked with lettering from the archive, including lines of 474 periods, each in a different font. Other glass walls are decorated with glyphs from Noto, the family of typefaces that Monotype designed for Google in a quest to design a typeface for every language on Earth.
“We let the type stand in the foreground, celebrating its details, its silhouette, its ink trap, its subtlety,” Monotype creative director James Fooks-Bale tells Wallpaper. “We also tried to hide details in places for the curious.” For instance, the handles of storage compartments form brackets from typefaces like Laurentian, Soho, Quire Sans, and Linotype Gianotten. As Fooks-Bale told Dexigner, “the glyph is always the hero.”
[Photos: Edmund Sumner]