Research Studios discuss designing Vetena

November 14, 2009 , In: Interviews


We recently interviewed James Le Beau-Morley at Research Studios, on his beautiful exclusive font, Vetena. In this interview James gives us a behind the scenes insight into the process of creating this typeface.

HypeForType: Where did the idea for Vetena come from?

James: Vetena comes from my interest in super-heavy typefaces such as Amplitude Ultra, Futura Extra Bold, Gills Sans Ultra Bold, and Sahara Bodoni. These typefaces have big personalities and have a presence that I like to see in display fonts. Something that stood out with these typefaces are the ink traps at intersections, I like when these cuts are taken to the extreme, a good example being Amplitude Ultra, where the continuity and flow of the letterform is suddenly interrupted with large wedges being unapologetically dug into it’s intersections. Sahara Bodoni convinced me to use an extreme thick-to-thin line width at intersections. I love how much personality these varying line-thicknesses have and wanted to create a typeface that possesses similar charismatic qualities.

I chose to design a lowercase version simply because I have never designed a full typeface before and this allows me to explore the defining characteristics of the alphabet, like ascenders, descenders, tails and bowls. I plan on designing the Uppercase at some point in the near future.

HypeForType: Tell us about the end result, was it what you expected?

James: Surprisingly enough, the end result is quite similar to how I imagined it, which is rare in my normal design process where it can vary. Naturally there where plenty of alternatives and versions for each letter form, but as with everything you have to weigh it all up and make the final call.

Above: Experiments for a, e and t.

Coherence between characters was something I tried to stay conscious of at the start but realized that all the letters looking identical was going to result in a boring and repetitive typeface.

Above: There is no distinction between the letters that leads to creating repetitive and dull looking words.

HypeForType: How influential do you believe typography is, and how does this affect graphic design?

James: Typography is hugely influential, just recently the Evening Standard published an article about young type foundries, the work they produce and the future trends of typography. I feel typography is getting a lot more exposure than ever before, this may be because of the increased number of applicants to graphic design courses and the exposure young people have to programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. I also think the Helvetica movie is proof of how popular typography is today, an entire movie shown in cinemas about one typeface is pretty amazing when you think about it. I don’t think this exposure of typography will be detrimental to graphic design, if anything it will, create a greater appreciation of it. I’m sure I’m not the only Designer who has had to justify spending client’s money on Helvetica Neue when they think Arial will suffice.

HypeForType: What does the future hold for Research Studios?

James: he future of Research Studios is to continue working with the diversity of projects and broad spectrum of clients in the UK and globally.

This year we have considered ourselves to be extremely lucky with the projects coming through the studio many of which I have had a hand in. We’ve been in all kinds of spaces and working across design platforms. We’re currently working on a high profile digital/web design projects in the UK and more work for Bonfire snowboarding a long-standing client. This year has also seen us branding an international hotel chain, developing campaign work for Arts and Culture organisations, drawing and cutting typography for a Hollywood block buster, Art Directing and editorial designs for a men’s fashion magazine Arena Homme +, pattern design for a Korean electronics company to name a few. We also get involved in a lot of our own exhibition and events work for example Super Contemporary at the Design Museum or exhibition and lecturing in Japan earlier in the year.

We just hope we continue to be involved with work that is as interesting and rich.