Begin Create and British Standard Type join forces with a custom typeface for Szczepaniak Astridge
As part of their identity for London-based architecture practice Szczepaniak Astridge, British design studio Begin Create worked alongside British Standard Type on the creation of a bespoke type family, SZCAST Sans. The result of close collaboration, the typeface steers clear of typical architectural typefaces while also mirroring the challenging and forward-thinking procedure, practice and methodology of Szczepaniak Astridge. Poetically driven by the concept of ‘sensory architecture,’ Begin Create sought to frame the architects as a ‘creative house’ over simply architects; an attitude that went on to inform the typeface’s construction and execution.
“Szczepaniak Astridge’s work is distinct, falling between art and design,” Begin Create’s Creative Partner Lee Deverill tells us, “so it was important we found an elegant confidence in both the marque and typeface to express that,” he adds, recalling the choice of BST as their collaborative partners due to the progressive, cultural and fashion-like sensibilities of their work. “We were all focused on creating something that didn’t fall into the usual modernist, modular interventions you find in architect branding,” Deverill explains, instead championing the combination of restraint and mastery at the core of Szczepaniak Astridge’s practice – a sentiment reflected through the refined monochromatic colour palette and the dual nature of the typeface’s text and display cuts.
“We started with a text version, something practical to be used every day,” Deverill recalls, “but were then encouraged to develop a display face to show more contrast and craftsmanship.” Typically beginning this process through the sketching of original letterforms, the journey began at the typefaces Optima from Herman Zapf and Antiqua from Adam Półtawski. “BST explored them freely,” Deverill tells us, combining these references with 19th-and-20th century neo-grotesque typefaces to create something from scratch. Rife with contrast between its sweeping curves and stark construction, the resulting typeface challenges expectations in the context of contemporary architecture.
“The same can be said for our clients,” Deverill adds, noting their open-minded approach and excitement to the proposals. “Importantly, they didn’t have any preconceived ideas about what the end result should be,” he concludes, “that kind of freedom is liberating as designers and I think it shows in the final outcome as well.”