A Visual Exploration of Classic Type With A Contemporary Lens

Design, type, color, texture, and playthings. If any of those words grabbed your attention you’re going to want to see this new book from Neenah, Fresh Takes on Classic Type on CLASSIC® Papers (#typelove) designed by Willoughby Design.


“We wanted to pay homage to typography’s importance in history and design by honoring iconic type designers. We asked the Willoughby team to identify creative typefaces that would engage designers,” said Kathy Kemps, Senior Brand Manager, Neenah.

Willoughby’s vision was to explore the world of analog type alongside today’s world of digital type. Six typefaces designed by some of today’s most iconic names in the field, including Spiekermann, Hische, Carter, and some creative newcomers, were selected for the project. Each typeface is the star of its own story, told through design, a variety of printing techniques and the textures and colors of signature Neenah CLASSIC brands: CLASSIC CREST®, CLASSIC® Linen, CLASSIC® Laid, and CLASSIC COLUMNS® Papers.


Each typeface used has an historical appeal to support Neenah’s mission of honoring classic typography. For instance, Big Caslon designed by Matthew Carter is a revival of the 18th and 19th century typefaces designed by William Caslon. Caslon’s typefaces freed the English from dependence on Dutch fonts and quickly became the standard type in the expansion of the British Empire — also becoming a long-time standard for American printing. Willoughby used Big Caslon to create a big, bold page spread that houses a pull out sheet of gift wrap, showcasing the oversized type.


Then there are the lovely Buttermilk and Brioche, designed by Jessica Hische, and reminiscent of times gone by. Buttermilk is a historic font in the making, in that it’s the first type designed by Hische. Willoughby used the swashy, feminine fonts to design for the senses, creating the idea of a pleasant and aromatic morning stop at a favorite bakery — use the slip-out cup sleeve for your own morning joe.


A project about classic type wouldn’t be complete without some wood type. Artz, by Eric Spiekermann was not only used to design a spread but was incorporated into the design. The left page features the oversized wood blocks used to create the right page. (The layout of the impressive blocks was nearly 4 feet tall.)


Representing contemporary type are newcomers Luke Lisi and Nicole and Petra Kapitza. Lisi’s clever Homestead is made up of three single-layer fonts, that can be arranged and overlapped in countless ways to create custom plaid designs.


And Roto, by Nicole and Petra Kapitza is a dingbat font full of swirls and rosettes that can be overlaid for new effects.


Each of the spreads includes a visual story designed for the type, and an interactive piece for readers to explore. The spread with the typewriter includes five letters for amusement, including a quiz to test your typewriter expertise, and trivia facts about the mysterious “X” that had a starring role in the X-Files.

“Nothing makes a designer happier than type on paper,” said Ann Willoughby, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Willoughby Design, “And with the technologies we have today, digital and analog worlds are united in an unlimited possibility of expression. It’s never been a better time to be a designer.”