re-creating a lost font

This font was designed in an entirely self-led class I took where I closely mentored with a professor on a project. From day one I created a schedule and planned what the semester-long project would look like from research, sketching, ideation, and inputting into a program so it could be used.

Original Ideation

Rochester is a passion project of mine. It was originally thought of in the summer of 2020 as one of my final assignments for college. In a directed study, under the mentorship of Jill Honeycutt, I created a 10-week curriculum based on designing a font. I was completely inspired after going to see Aaron Draplin at a meet and greet where he spoke about his life, his inspiration, and things he's working on. One of the projects he highlighted was how he created his font DDC Hardware. Draplin had been inspired by the old fonts used for old building signage and wanted to reinvent and memorialize it. Totally inspired by him I looked around at stores, thrift shops, and even just in my room for different typefaces and things that would give me a reference to build my own font off of.

Finding My Muse

When looking at the packaging on some of the old cameras I own, I fell in love with the typeface used on the Jiffy Kodak series II box. This camera was produced starting in 1937, and the one I own was originally purchased by my great grandmother Auget.

I searched and searched for the font they used and couldn't find it. After running the idea by my mentor, I set out to recreate this font with only the letters on the front of the box to guide my interpretation of this lost font. I planned to create a full set of uppercase, lowercase, and glyph characters for this font. I named this font Rochester as an ode to the original home and factory of Kodak.

Research and Sketching

The font on the Kodak box is a geometric sans-serif typeface. The letterforms are based on geometric shapes that became representatives of visual elements of the Bauhaus design style of 1919-1933. This was first popularized through the typeface Futura, which was designed in 1927 by Paul Renner. I wanted to stay true to the original design of the typeface. When I began the iterations of the characters I had to create with no direct reference to the Kodak version of the typeface, I looked to other popular geometric sans serif fonts that had similar characteristics. My favorite ones I referenced during my sketching and ideation stage was Futura, Filson, Arboria, Josefin Sans, Laca, Poppins, and Transat. All had a very similar bold effect.

The slideshow below shows the iteration of research design boards, sketching, and then implementing the designs into Glyphs and Figma which is where I did my designs for the font and the website prototype.

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View Mockup

Created with Figma

As a part of this project, my professor pushed me to create a font page inspired by sites like Lost Type.

Final Thoughts

The only characters designed at the moment are those in the regular family. But in the future, my goal is to fully refine all the ‘regular’ characters as well as create a lighter and bolder version of the typeface. Creating a fully fleshed out font in 10 weeks is quite the ambitious feat if you ask me (especially while being in other classes and working). I'm very lucky I had a mentor who encouraged me to work hard through it all. I was able to produce a final product for this self-led class, and what would be the last project I'd turn in for my undergrad, that I was incredibly proud of. Rochester's ideation journey is far from over and I look forward to being able to update it in the future.