Transport for London Unveils Johnston100 as New Typeface

Transport for London launches the new design in July, initially for printed materials, followed by its trains and station signage.

Transport for London (TfL) has unveiled the forthcoming debut of the freshly created Johnston100 typeface. Remastered by Monotype to revive the flavour of the design developed 100 years ago, the revamp expands the palette of the original print to embrace both contemporary typographic trends and revised digital requirements.

The new release includes five weights of the design, including two new contemporary weights: hairline and thin, and will start to appear across the iconic transport network later this year. Originally designed by Edward Johnston in 1916, it is instantly recognisable as the graphic language of London.

Used across every train, bus, station signage, and wayfinding, Johnston is by now ingrained in the fabric of the city. Meanwhile, 2016 marks the centennial of the aforementioned typeface. Monotype has gone on to develop the design to allow for better usability across various branding platforms.

The move enables for a more nuanced palette and wider versatility of the design. With TfL’s presence having expanded beyond physical locations and uses like train stations and uniforms to digital mediums like apps, signage, and social media, the need for a modern spin became apparent.

“The Johnston typeface speaks of London like no other. It has been around 100 years. We just want to make sure it is used consistently across all our branding touchpoints and across all of our future branding platforms, so we asked Monotype to go back to the original principles of Johnston, and create a digital typeface using the DNA of its truly iconic predecessor” said Jon Hunter, Head of Design at TfL.

“With social media becoming more prevalent, essential even, certain characters such as the hashtag and the at symbol have become ingrained into the very fabric of modern life. I like to think that if Johnston was posed the challenge today of creating a digital version of the font, he would have arrived at a very similar conclusion.”

Transport for London launches Johnston100 typeface.
Transport for London launches Johnston100 typeface.

The launch of Johnston100 supports the group’s celebrations to mark the centenary of the iconic Johnston typeface and forms part of the brand’s ‘Transported by Design’ programme, which showcases the impact of good design on the London transport network.

The Johnston100 family features five weights of the design. The above mentioned two new weights demonstrate the challenge of trying to strip a typeface of its mass and find its skeleton—both a design and research task. The result is enchanting as it harks back to the original design whilst infusing a modern touch.

The Johnston 100 typeface has been widened to provide a more relaxed feeling, calling back to its creator’s blueprint drawings. Through its evolution, it has become narrower and more mechanical, with functionality taking precedence over historical design.

The new layout has a feeling of injected geometry, which includes proportional figures, rather than tabular, and its character set has been expanded to include more accented characters and diacritics, allowing for use among a wider variety of languages.

Johnston100 will be rolled out by TfL from July 2016, initially for printed materials, such as Tube maps and posters. Over time, the typeface will be used within its trains and station signage including London’s new Crossrail Elizabeth line, which is scheduled to open in 2018.

It can also be seen for the first time on a special edition poster designed by Monotype to celebrate the centennial. The work joins a series of 10 such creatives developed in partnership with TfL, with further poster designs scheduled to arrive from Pentagram, SEA, and Alan Kitching.

The series will be live across the Underground network from June 10, 2016 for two weeks and limited edition prints can be purchased directly from the London Transport Museum Shop.