London-based Touch Press publishes books and other collections in the new medium ushered in by the iPad. Among their titles you’ll find such successes as Theodore Gray’s The Elements and Marcus Chown’s Solar System. It’s a young company started by media producer Max Whitby and author Theodore Gray, built on the premise that our present idea of books and reading is due for a great transformation. When we found out Touch Press was using Mobile FontFonts for some of their newer releases, I immediately got in touch with them to find out more. I spoke with Matt Aitken, one of the designers, who was able to walk me through a few of the compositions, and talk type along the way.
The Barefoot World Atlas came first. The children’s atlas tells stories with audio narration, illustrations, objects and photographs, placed at points of interest about a revolving globe. Matt explained that typographically, it needed to closely match the feel of the printed edition. FF Duper and FF Tisa took up this task, adding to the playful presentation and all the while staying easily legible to children’s eyes.
Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy pairs the renaissance artist’s anatomical drawings with 3D models representing the best medical imaging presently achievable. One highlight of the app is its ability toggle between the original and the translated text in drawings. “We at first considered the idea of presenting these handwritten legends in a font that looked like handwriting, but after some thought, decided against using a style that somehow might mimic Leonardo’s writing. We instead went for something that stands off the page a bit, FF Celeste Sans.” The other main consideration was that these translations needed to be legible at small sizes. “The originals were all smaller than A4, and in some cases the writing is just tiny,” Matt explained. FF Celeste Sans works well for this purpose. It has sufficient graphic contrast from the rest of the material, but with its humanistic feel is still able to stay cohesive with the whole of the composition. The classical proportions and contemporary feel of FF Yoga set the tone of the app, used both in body text and user interface.
As Matt and I discussed Touch Press’s emphasis on great design, he brought up as one of his formative experiences an early collaboration with Hilary Kenna. “Hilary helped us to see the typography as such an integral part of telling the story.” Matt adds that since placing greater effort toward getting the type right, the company’s services have been all the more in demand. “Each one of our apps has a story in it. We work to make the typography beautiful and the whole experience great.”