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The Basement at London’s Science Museum

Rosemary Sassoon’s well-researched typeface guides youngsters through the children’s wing of the museum.

Contributed by Stephen Coles on Jan 4th, 2011.

As many visitors are pre-readers, photographic images are utilized to aid readability.

Norman Hathaway designed the identity and signage program for the children’s wing of London’s Science Museum, informally known as The Basement. The wayfinding is built with asymmetric porcelain enamel signs with friendly black and white photos and Sassoon. Hathaway says the typeface choice came naturally:

Rosemary Sassoon is the only person I know of who has done extensive readabilty testing with children. Her resulting typeface features details that help dyslexic kids differentiate between characters. Aside from all that, I think it’s an attractive face. I like that Sassoon doesn’t consider herself a designer, but a researcher. Perhaps that mindset made for the innovative end result.

Club Type’s “Starter Pack” of Sassoon fonts for reading and handwriting exercises.

Since 1987, Adrian Williams has produced and licensed Sassoon’s fonts through his Club Type foundry. They range from the original Primary face to upright, dotted, and joined handwriting variations commonly used in US and UK schools.

For more fonts inspired by school handwriting, see the School Scripts FontList curated by Florian Hardwig for FontShop.


  • Sassoon Primary




In Sets

6 Comments on “The Basement at London’s Science Museum”

  1. Mr. Jon says:
    Jan 11th, 2011 2:30 pm

    One can associate thick, cartoonish type with children's design; this slender type is a bit refreshing. Looks a lot like Goudy Sans Italic to me.

  2. Anonymity says:
    Jan 21st, 2011 8:04 pm

    Reminds me of D'Nealian manuscript. Much more attractive, though.

  3. Dang, that is brilliant and gorgeous. Didn't know about this typeface; stunning alternative to everyone yammering lately about how Comic Sans helps dyslexia.

  4. ishoream says:
    Oct 17th, 2011 5:24 am

    I find this simply many ways. The simple addition of the black and white photographs to widen the audience the information can reach and the beautiful typeface that has such a development behind it, as Hathaway said it seems only natural to use it in this way. Lovely.

  5. Sassoon edited a book, that includes a chapter on the development process for her typeface: Computers and Typography: Volume 1.
    the face is similar to how British children are taught to print in school, which was one of her goals.

  6. Sassoon’s initial goal was to design a typeface for reading, but it is true that it was developed further as a handwriting scheme as well. As such, it has been used not only in the UK, but also in Scandinavia. Those without quick access to Computers and Typography can read about the typeface series in this pdf: Why Sassoon?

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