The London Workshops, a limited-edition perfect-bound book published February 2022 by Syracuse Architecture, is an exploration of design frameworks pursued by three architecture workshops in London. The book is anchored by three visual essays by prominent London architects—Owen Watson of 6a architects, Hikaru Nissanke & Jon Lopez of OMMX, and Paolo Vimercati of Grimshaw—and is supplemented by interviews with the contributors and an essay by the workshops’ organizers.
With content demanding color printing throughout in tension with a fixed production budget, project leads Anne Munly and Davide Sacconi anticipated that The London Workshops would be subject to a strict page limit. As their designer and co-editor, I was asked to develop a layout that maximized wordcount while maintaining the liberal margins needed to appropriately frame the book’s significant image content.
David Jonathan Ross’s Gimlet family quickly rose to the top of possible type options, due to its inclusion of Condensed and Compressed subfamilies (⅞-width and ¹³⁄₁₆-width, respectively). When the raw transcripts of the book’s three featured interviews came in at nearly 30,000 words, Gimlet Compressed was the unanimous choice.
Through the course of the normal editing process, the wordcount dropped sufficiently that most of the text was ultimately set in Gimlet Condensed, with Gimlet Compressed stepping in occasionally to smooth over some hyphenation and justification sticking points. Once the wordcount had come down appreciably, we realized we had the option to revisit typeface options, but after we saw how well Gimlet performed through the less-than-crisp printing method our budget allowed, that discussion was over before it began.
David made available to us an early version of Gimlet’s nascent sans-serif sibling family for testing as an accent face, but ultimately we decided to use the seriffed family exclusively and allow Gimlet’s widths to be the driving design element. To my eye, Gimlet Narrow, the ¹⁵⁄₁₆-width subfamily, has the most typical proportions for a text family, so juxtaposing full-width Gimlet with one of the narrower widths creates a disruption of rhythm that’s as visually interesting as the introduction of a second type family. We pushed that differentiation as far as we could go with flagrantly over-the-top letterspacing in the chapter heads.