The new Observer, in newsstands since 21 January, uses the Sole Serif face designed by Luciano Perondi, member of CAST, a well-known and highly-regarded Italian type design studio.
While the Italian daily La Repubblica turned to the designers of The Guardian for its typeface, by contrast the Guardian Media Group opted for the Italian type designers at CAST to revamp The Observer, the oldest Sunday paper in the world.
Here’s what creative director Alex Bauer had to say:
When approaching the design for the new tabloid version of the Observer it felt important to restate all the things the readers love about Observer journalism. It is a great Sunday paper full of great investigative journalism, cultural insight, with a rich range of characterful voices and wit.
It was important for us to evolve the typography to embody all of these attributes. We needed a display typeface with a range of weights that was rich in character and able to convey the weight of gravitas and tradition but also the vitality of the contemporary.
When we discovered Sole Serif from CAST we knew very quickly that this font reflected our ambition — from the heavy, characterful black and bold weights to the graceful and elegant lighter weights — we knew we had in our hands a wonderful, rich and expressive typographic palette with which to develop the design.
More than two centuries after it first came out on 4 December 1791, today The Observer is published by the same group as the British daily The Guardian and the international Guardian Weekly. Since its foundation it has been committed to informing its readers ‘unbiased by prejudice – uninfluenced by party’. ‘Whole principle is independence, whole object is truth, and the dissemination of every species of knowledge that may conduce to the happiness of society.’
On 14 January editor John Mulholland wrote announcing the relaunch:
In 2018, this newspaper remains committed to the values that have shaped it since 1791. It was founded as a new set of values swept across Europe during the Enlightenment, and born into an era when the ideas of rationalism, science, and liberalism were taking hold. These are still our guiding principles.
Next week you will notice some changes, all of them designed to enhance our commitment to serious, rigorous and thought-provoking journalism. There will be a new-look magazine. Fresh, innovative design will power all the sections. New columnists will appear. The New Review will continue to devote itself to cultural and intellectual reporting of the highest order. And we will publish the 200th issue of our award-winning Observer Food Monthly.
CAST (Cooperativa Anonima Servizi Tipografici) is a digital type foundry set up as a cooperative and run by Erasmo Ciufo, Luciano Perondi and Riccardo Olocco.
Starting from 2014 we have published 16 types. The best known is Sole Serif, designed by Luciano Perondi for Il Sole 24 Ore and now further developed, with Riccardo Olocco, Daniele Capo and Alessio D’Ellena, for the relaunch of The Observer. It is available in an extensive range of weights and styles, and has all the qualities needed for setting all kinds of newspaper texts.
Besides type designers, programmers and developers our group includes teachers, researchers and graphic designers. We also work closely with Italian and international publishers, printing historians, typographers and calligraphers.
This has enabled us to set up a network of ‘contributors’ and, exactly one year ago, to launch a series of articles on the science, history and culture of printing. These can be found in the Articles section of our website.
To present our typefaces, we have created Cast it, an annual publication co-produced with Lazy Dog Press. In the second issue, just out, our ‘test’ text is the first two chapters of The printer’s grammar, a manual for compositors written and published in London in 1755, while for the first issue we chose the entry ‘Fonditore di caratteri da stampa’ (‘Type founder’) from the Dizionario delle Arti e dei Mestieri (Venice, 1769).