Say What?

6 line Lydian Bold Condensed

This question mark, or interrogation mark, comes from one of a few fonts I have of Lydian. According to Mac McGrew, author of American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century, Lydian is a “brilliant and popular calligraphic style designed by Warren Chappell for ATF.” No offense to McGrew or Chappell, but I’m gonna be honest with you, I don’t much care for Lydian. It feels too mannered, I’ve never had a good reason to use it, and I’ve never seen it used well – until last Friday, February 19. The staff of the Book Arts Program were invited to the home of Ann Montanaro, Director of the Movable Book Society, to view her collection of over 4,000 pop-up and movable books. It’s a truly impressive collection with many fun, clever, and awe-inspiring books, but one in particular stood out for me. The title of the remarkable book is … from the bottom UP! Besides the magnificent illustrations, brilliant use of simple paper engineering, and flawless design, this book manages to use Lydian (the main text is Lydian Italic) in a way that makes me question my disdain. The stroke modulation and angled serifs integrate seamlessly with the style of the illustration, and the pairing with Futura feels contemporary and fresh, despite the fact that the book was published in the early to mid 40s.