The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

April 4, 2017
by Dan
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The Last London

The London Review of Books has a brilliant, sprawling, melancholy essay by author and psychogeographer Iain Sinclair titled ‘The Last London’. It’s difficult to know what to quote from the essay as it touches on so many interesting, diverse things, but this … Continue reading

January 12, 2017
by Dan
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Brutalist Dreams

At the New York Review of Books, American architecture critic Martin Filler casts a critical eye over a slew of new books on Brutalist architecture:  In addition to its echoes of art brut—Jean Dubuffet’s name for outsider art—New Brutalism was … Continue reading

September 6, 2016
by Dan
1 Comment

A Dickensian Alphabet

Tom Gauld has made a print for London comics store Gosh! to celebrate their 30th anniversary. You can buy it online here.

June 14, 2016
by Dan
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Johnston100 for Transport for London

A short film about Monotype’s update to Transport for London’s Johnston typeface: Originally designed by Edward Johnston in 1916, the ‘remastered’ Johnston100 typeface, attempts to restore the idiosyncrasies of the Johnston’s design while expanding it to embrace contemporary typographic trends and meet new digital requirements. Johnston100 includes five weights … Continue reading

June 1, 2016
by Dan
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ELCAF 2016 Official Poster

The official poster for the fifth East London Comics Art Festival by Jean Jullien.

March 21, 2016
by Dan
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David Pearson Found on the Shelves

At The Bookseller, designer David Pearson talks about his new cover designs for Pushkin Press’s ‘Found on the Shelves’ series celebrating 175 years of the London Library: At the heart of successful series design is motif – be it colour, type, … Continue reading

March 11, 2016
by Dan
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Edward Johnston: Modest Typographic Purist

At The Guardian, Oliver Wainwright considers the work of Edward Johnson, and visits a new exhibition marking the centenary of his famous typeface for London Underground: Although sans-serif typefaces (letters without the little flicks at the end of their strokes) date back to … Continue reading

July 14, 2015
by Dan
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The Antiquarian Bookshops of Old London

At the lovely Spitalfields Life blog, the Gentle Author reminisces about buying and selling used books in London, and shares some wondeful black and white photographs of the city’s secondhand bookshops taken in 1971 by Richard Brown: Frustrated by my … Continue reading

June 2, 2015
by Dan
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The Retiring Type: Intelligent Life on Edward Johnson

At Intelligent Life, Catherine Nixey tells the story of Edward Johnson, creator of the London Underground’s typeface: The Underground didn’t commission a font to look different from commercial ones simply to sell it straight back to the commercial world. But that … Continue reading

February 27, 2015
by Dan
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Masters of Letters

Sartorial site Mr Porter asks five designers — Mat Maitland, Eddie Opara, Sagi Haviv, Edwin Van Gelder, and Chip Kidd — about their favourite typeface. Here’s Eddie Opara of Pentagram on Berthold Wolpe’s Albertus, the typeface used for the street signs of the City of London: I … Continue reading

January 28, 2015
by Dan
2 Comments

The Doves Type Revival

I missed this wonderful story about the infamous lost typeface of English Arts and Crafts publisher Doves Press — unceremoniously “bequeathed” to the Thames by one of the co-founders of the press —  in The Economist last month: Between August 1916 and January 1917 Cobden-Sanderson, a printer and bookbinder, … Continue reading

August 20, 2014
by Dan
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It Kills Everything It Touches

At the LA Review of Books, Daniel Mark Janes discusses last month’s curious conference at Birkbeck College (University of London) about the author Geoff Dyer: Anyone who has written about Geoff Dyer will have been tempted to emulate his style, particularly his tendency to digress: … Continue reading

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