Matthew Buchanan portrait by Photobooth SF

About thie author

I’m a designer and practitioner of fine typography in Auckland, New Zealand. I co-founded a design and development studio, Cactuslab, in 2001, and a social network for film fans, Letterboxd, in 2011. I design themes for Tumblr, speak occasionally about web techniques and typography, and think up reasons to visit New York City.

Matthew Buchanan

Neutral is a new typeface from Kai Bernau — underway since 2005 — that aims to homogenise a number of popular 20th-century sans serifs “to create a typeface free of all connotations or associations that could distract a reader from the text, a font that delivers the character of the written material untouched by the character of the typeface design”. His influences included Plato’s doctrine of Ideas, the Conceptual Art movement, and, most interestingly:

… the ideas of 16th-century tea ceremony master Sen no Rikyū, who greatly influenced the wabi-cha style of chanoyu tea ceremony. This style tries to attain perfection in the essential aspects of the ceremony by the removal of anything which could divert the focus from the essential elements: the tea and the interaction of host and guests.

The entire history and rationale is an enlightening read.


Doing some research on stencils ahead of an upcoming Paul Barnes workshop and rediscovered some of Kelvin Soh’s work for Stolen Rum. Florian Hardwig writes about the stencil typeface for Fonts In Use:

Avia was originally designed by Raphael Boguslav as Visa for Visual Graphics Corporation (VGC) in 1966. The bold cut that is used here was added by Jill Pichotta for Font Bureau’s digital version. As an “elegant stencil” with detached triangular serifs, it is a precursor of Decoder (Gerard Unger, 1992) and Dala Floda (Paul Barnes, 2010).


The just-launched Carousel app from Dropbox is a thoughtfully-designed and welcome replacement for the built-in Photos app on iOS. It chronologically combines your device’s camera roll with the photos stored in your Dropbox, and you can use a swipe gesture to share, or to hide individual images from your stream (they remain in Dropbox). I’d like the ability to hide by folder (for images that aren’t photos), and it would be nice to have some control over which photos show up larger in the grid.

Update: Dropbox illustrator Alice Lee takes a look at how the branding and illustration process unfolded.


I don’t play many games, but this beautiful Escher-inspired puzzler for iOS has me captivated. From the press notes:

Monument Valley is a surreal exploration through fantastical architecture and impossible geometry. Guide the silent Princess Ida through mysterious monuments, uncovering hidden paths, taking advantage of optical illusions and outsmarting the enigmatic Crow People.

The trailer will probably be enough to sell you, but it doesn’t completely convey the simplicity of the concept or the gradual way in which it introduces new and more complex game mechanics. Beautiful work.

Update: Finished it. Only thing I can’t find is the IAP for ten more levels.


A short film on Mike Langley, sign painter, for Vassilaros & Sons Coffee Co. From The Portland Egotist:

The attention to detail and steadiness of sign painting work blows our mind. You get that sense here in a very small dose, but if you have a chance be sure to check out Sign Painters because it will give you a respect and a healthy dose of inspiration for this unique section of the typographic fields.

(via John Boardley)