Searching for the voice of Reason by Paul Willoughby

Searching for the voice of Reason

By Paul Willoughby Aug 19

Our creative director Paul Willoughby discusses the team’s process for creating a bespoke typeface for our magazine project Weapons of Reason…

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What is the voice of reason? What is the tone and timbre of this voice? What does reason even look like? These were some of the questions we asked ourselves as we embarked upon the creation of a bespoke typeface for second issue for Weapons of Reason, our magazine project which uses creativity as a force for good.

Our first consideration: if the magazine were to talk, who would it sound like? We searched for figures with iconic vocal tones, a voice that embodied the characteristics we needed. Our choice was (quite literally) a natural one: Attenborough.

One of the most recognisable, soothing voices in sonically recorded history, Sir David Attenborough’s is absolutely authoritative, yet friendly and articulate, well-rounded through maturity and understanding of the human condition. Perfect, then, for the pages of a magazine designed to connect people with the complexities of the biggest challenges facing our planet.

As a typeface, this how our voice of Reason needs to speak:

  • It’s clear and can be heard easily
  • It’s not sharp, excitable or undulating
  • It talks straight
  • It doesn’t wrestle with your emotions
  • It doesn’t shout (we never use all caps, we value the shape of the word)
  • It simply presents to you, reasoning on matters of global importance

We needed letterforms that could present a firm structure yet reflect a warm humanity. The starting point for these letterforms was the golden section - this divine proportion is woven throughout the structure of the universe, so we imbued our typeface with it. But there are some strange characters and idiosyncrasies in there, too. After all, we humans have our quirks, our imperfections, and perfection is a flaw.

We see clear, illuminating visual communication as an important vantage point from which to see the future. Expressed in this typeface, the Weapons of Reason voice hopes to be approachable and clear, but deliver an incendiary message. It reminded us very much of Einstein’s famous quip that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Yet we also continue to be guided by a sentiment from The Royal Society, London, a fellowship behind some of the most life-changing discoveries in scientific history (and of which our hero, Sir Attenborough, is an honorary fellow). Their motto is ‘Nullius in verba’ (see for yourself). In other words? Use your Reason.

Willo x