Fontsmith launches a new speciality signage typeface, FS Millbank

27 Feb 2015

A new type of font specifically designed for signage and wayfinding purposes has been created by Fontsmith. The custom-built FS Millbank font was the brainchild of designer Stuart de Rozario and developed over a period of 12 months to ensure the perfect end result.

The Inspiration Behind FS Millbank

Stuart created the FS Millbank font because he wanted something that was more suitable for our current fast-paced lifestyle. He believed that the fonts used for signage and wayfinding today were generally functional enough, but they lacked personality, had become too familiar and were no longer contemporary.

The Characteristics of a Wayfinding Font

Fonts used for wayfinding purposes have a specific set of requirements. They need to be easily visible and legible at a distance so that they can be read and understood quickly, with minimum confusion and stress.

The Requirements of Wayfinding Fonts Today

Today’s environment is much faster-paced than it was just a few years ago, and so the FS Millbank font addresses the changes in the way we currently live. Our need to view signs more quickly has become more paramount, with legibility and clarity being more pertinent than ever before. With more information around us to take in, including volume of traffic and digital data at our fingertips, we absorb information differently and we need to understand it more quickly to make accurate decisions – often in a split second when our attention span is compromised.

What Makes FS Millbank Different?

The FS Millbank font challenges some of the things prevalent in typical wayfinding fonts, such as size, blur, distance, glow and sharp-angled views. It was designed to take on board all of the changes in the way we live today, but it was the goal of Stuart to create a font that was not just functional but had a unique personality too. Wayfinding fonts have traditionally been designed with just practicality in mind, and their over-use has meant that they no longer feel modern or relevant. The belief today is that there is no reason why a font should not have a unique character so that it can be contemporary and functional. This allows it to be used for its intended purpose, but it gives it wider scope and flexibility for other general uses.

Whilst character and personality have been used in FS Millbank, it does not stray away from the core intention of being used for wayfinding. Individual letters can be easily understood and not misinterpreted, especially at a distance, thanks to opening up the characters. Overall line length has been maintained, whilst blur and glow have been addressed through the creation of two font versions – standard and negative.

Glyph letter combinations that commonly caused words to be misunderstood were also analysed during the development process of FS Millbank to ensure these issues were not replicated in the design. As well as addressing legibility and clarity, the font is versatile in different sizes. Characters are also given extra definition, so they are distinguished easily at various angles.

Detail and design nuances were finally added at the end of the development process to make FS Millbank functional and beautiful as well. FS Millbank Icon is also offered as a free addition to the font family.