Women in Type is a three-year research project undertaken at the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication of the University of Reading between March 2018 and November 2021.
It highlights the work of women as key contributors to the design process of many renowned typefaces of the 20th century. The project is led by Prof. Fiona Ross with principal researcher Dr. Alice Savoie and post-doctoral assistant Dr. Helena Lekka.
The website was conceived by Alice Savoie (content and project management) and Mathieu Triay (design and code) as an accessible and interactive tool to share the project’s findings with the wider public.
In terms of design, the website makes heavy use of Gig designed by Franziska Weitgruber for any display use, including the titles of the articles. It was chosen because it gave an energetic hand-drawn feeling which was reminiscent of the work accomplished by the women of the type drawing offices while remaining fresh and contemporary.
To contrast, and for extended text use, the site uses Grotesque 6 by Émilie Rigaud. It follows the classical Stephenson Blake Grotesque model while bringing just enough modernity to turn the wonky shapes into an even and attractive texture, easily referencing the metal type era the research talks about. However, it doesn’t come with its own italics. Émilie highlights (while wondering if what was initially a purposeful decision is now a small oversight):
Designers who used it since then have found alternatives, like underlining it or switching to a different typeface to create a nice contrast.
So to answer the brief, the website uses the variable font of Gig to achieve a matching stroke weight and x-height which allows it be used as italics elegantly inside text set in Grotesque6.