Unexpected Baskerville: the Story of LoveFrom Serif

With Antonio Cavedoni

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Location: St Bride Foundation (In-person only)

In-person time (BST):
Doors/bar: 18:15
Talk: 19:00-20:30
In-person tickets: £8.50, £11.00, £13.00

Book tickets HERE

LoveFrom is a creative collective of designers, architects, musicians, filmmakers, writers, engineers and artists with studios in London and San Francisco. It was founded in 2019 by Sir Jony Ive, former chief design officer at Apple. Working with Marc Newson and Peter Saville, the first act of the collective was to create its own typeface.

Sometimes looking forwards means looking backwards. After a broad exploration, the team became fascinated by the letterforms designed and crafted by pioneering printer and type designer John Baskerville in the 18th century. Baskerville was a consummate craftsman and no detail of his printing press was overlooked. The design of his letters was groundbreaking because of its sharpness and precision, and Baskerville leveraged his experience as a writing master and letter cutter.

The story of Baskerville’s punches was uncovered by type historian John Dreyfus, and many of the punches survive. After finding their way to Paris when the Baskerville press was acquired by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais in the late 18th century, they were eventually returned to the UK by Charles Peignot in 1953 and are now cared for by the University of Cambridge. Some matrices also survive and are preserved by Oxford University.

The influence of this typeface on the history of European typography cannot be overstated. Yet the many new and often high-profile interpretations of Baskerville raised a particular design problem: how would we make a truly meaningful contribution to the Baskerville tradition?

From a study of Baskerville’s surviving punches and printed books to a look at contemporary writing master’s manuals, this talk gives an overview of the Baskerville letterforms, their historical significance and the design of a brand new interpretation that supports a new identity. LoveFrom Serif greatly extends the dynamic range of the original Baskerville letterforms, providing the studio not just with an identity but with a voice, and a tool to use in selected projects with clients as well as self-initiated work.

Antonio Cavedoni is a designer from Italy. After seven years at Apple in California, where he led the design of the San Francisco family of typefaces, he now lives and works in Milano, Italy. Antonio is part of the LoveFrom collective based in San Francisco, California, and in London. He also runs Fonderia Cavedoni, a type foundry designing and publishing original retail typefaces. Antonio is an active researcher on the history of typography, lettering and writing.

We would like to thank Google and The Wynkyn de Worde Society Charitable Trust for their generosity in sponsoring this lecture.