Network Sans

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Network Sans was produced as an ambitious project to put typography at the core of public transport and city branding. This quietly radical type family was developed over the course of a year, alongside several similarly ambitious inhouse identity projects. It involved a wide range of stakeholders, across public transport and city wayfinding divisions.

Why produce a typeface inhouse?

Commissions that are hyper conscious of their visibility facing taxpayers often come with many caveats. Once we decided we needed a typeface family unique to PTV, we had to address the stipulation that our typeface design should be sourced locally or nationally—no expensive international commissions allowed.

Mastering is a lot of work.

Producing a typeface can be relatively straight-forward in terms of software and time constraints. Generally, letterforms, once drawn, are converted into vectors and then dropped, part-by-part, into a font creation program which then outputs the collected letterforms into a single file (or a family of files if you have a range of weights and/or styles i.e. Bolds, Italics etc.). To a working graphic designer this process makes reasonable sense.

Licensing is work too.

Another task that had to be done before our type family could be distributed was the writing of an EULA. For the unfamiliar EULA stands for ‘End User Licence Agreement’. EULAs have become a common attachment to distributed typefaces in the digital era. They are extensive legal documents that describe details of the ownership of a particular typeface within a font (font being the legal definition of the type of software that contains a set of letterforms). EULAs protect the copyright of a typeface, maintaining the identity of any entity it seeks to represent.

Where next?

Along the course of this project, Network Sans provided many useful lessons in the implementation of a type-led identity and the creation of the sort of robust, versatile and suitable set of letterforms that could support this approach. Yet, there were aspects that deserved more attention than we were able to give them, particularly in regards to mastering.

Much of the work of the PTV Design Team often flies under the radar (for appropriate reason) although conversation provoked within the public sphere does emerge from time to time (for this I personally thank the many transport enthusiasts who unknowing provided much of the feedback that helped propel forward many of the unprecedented—locally at least—versions we worked on. For a slight glimpse into the hard work and dedication that continues behind the scenes at PTV (and similar inhouse teams) see this article on seat fabric designs (another project I contributed to): ︎︎︎
Status: Completed.
Under exclusive license to the Victorian Government’s Department of Transport and Planning and Public Transport Victoria based in Melbourne, Australia.