Ryman Eco; The world’s most beautiful, sustainable, typeface design

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Can Typography design save the world?
There’s nothing new about the fact our environment is suffering from the impact of climate change. So could typography save the world? Well, single handily no it probably couldn’t, but it does open up a valuable dialog for designers. What could we be doing to encourage a more sustainable future? If not only for ourselves, but for our clients as well, and if we could do it through making some intelligent typographic choices, why wouldn’t we?

Ryman Eco may not be the world’s first ‘eco-friendly’ typeface – however it very well may be the most beautiful.

The whole idea of eco-friendly typefaces is that they use less printer ink than regular typefaces. A little ink here and there may not seem like much, but given our appetite for printing everything that appears in our collective In-Boxes, all this ink can really add-up to a measurable environmental impact.

The ‘most beautiful sustainable typeface’ began as an internal project with Grey London, a UK based advertising agency. Grey then brought the idea to Ryman, the U.K.’s biggest stationer, and worked in collaboration with Monotype’s Dan Rhatigan. (pictured below)

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The release of this beautiful video documents type director Dan Rhatigan’s thoughts behind the new typeface design, while reminding us that the best typefaces are a marriage of function and beauty. “I feel other eco-friendly fonts have compromised on design, if you use them for anything other than an invoice, they’re just not very pretty. With Ryman Eco, we wanted to create something that looks like a classic serif from a distance but is also a beautiful font to work with when you blow it up. It was critical that it wasn’t just functional.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AddzOtC90Io

Legibility was Rhatigans key concern, but drawing inspiration from the Linotype Legibility Group and more contemporary typefaces such as Georgia and New Century Schoolbook helped guide the end result.

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Grey claim that in tests carried out using Monotype’s Font Explorer Pro tool, Ryman Eco used around 30 per cent less ink than Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia and Verdana. Grey claims that if the rest of the world followed suit, we could save over 490 million ink cartridges and 15 million barrels of oil each year.

“Essentially, we looked for great examples of legible styles then worked out how we could create a similarly versatile model in the most efficient way possible. We wanted to make something experimental and constructive, a tool that can help people reduce consumption and gets them thinking about waste,” says Rhatigan.

Sustainable typefaces have been up for discussion and in the news of recent years. Highlighted most publicly when a 14-year-old American student suggested that U.S. federal and state governments could save a combined $370 million annually by changing from Times New Roman to Garamond as a result of a science project.

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It is inspiring to see designers recognise sustainable challenges within our industry, and even more exciting to see them approached with creative solutions that use innovative thinking and sophisticated applications. The typeface not only scores points for its sustainable function and beauty, but from a brand perspective it brings awareness around current issues we are facing in design and the world, and provides a positive (free) solution to the Ryman consumer. Typography is an often undervalued brand asset, Ryman have leveraged the positive environmental associations of this project to counter the negative eco bi-product of their industry with a beautiful result for everyone.

It certainly leaves us thinking about what else we can do to make an impact internally and on a client side, and it sure beats comic sans!

Merren Spink
Design Creative

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