Ellen Lupton on Scala

In 2005 Ellen Lupton, one of America’s preeminent design authors and educators, was asked to create a type specimen of the Scala family for the book Made with FontFont – Type for independent minds’

‘Made with FontFont’ (edited by Dutch writer-designer Jan Middendorp and FontShop co-founder Erik Spiekermann) was published by FontShop, documenting the company’s most important typefaces of the past 15 years. 

For this occasion Ellen Lupton wrote and designed the type specimen Writing with Scala – type specimen | writing sample. To showcase Scala she used her own texts that she had written over the years.

Read the full text below or download a PDF of the type specimen at the bottom of this page.

Writing with Scala

Ellen Lupton: “I first used Scala in 1991, when Robin Kinross mailed it to me in New York City on a floppy disk. Robin was writing an essay for an exhibition catalogue I was editing, Graphic Design and typography in the Netherlands: A View of Recent Work. His essay was about typeface design, and this is what he had to say about Scala, designed by the brilliant young typographer Martin Majoor:

Scala sums up many characterististics of recent Dutch type design. It is an ‘old style’ face, perhaps, but it follows no established model—it invokes memories of W. A. Dwiggins and Eric Gill. Scala has a definite, sharp character of its own, which escapes the Van Krimpen mold. As usual with the Dutch, the italic has a strong, insistent rhythm, perhaps to an extreme. Much love and attention has gone into the ‘special sorts,’ —there is even an x-height ampersand (&)—and the figures are, of course, non-lining.*

Presented on the following pages are specimens of texts that I have written over the years, sampled and reconfigured to provide a showing of this amazing typeface. All of these texts were originally written in Scala. As a writer who is also a designer, I often compose my words directly on the page, and I am happiest when writing in Scala. Its crisp geometry and humanist references make Scala at home with both the visual and literary qualities of the written word. Scala’s x-height, which may be unfashionably large by today’s standards, has always sat well with me, reminding me of my own bottom-heavy figure. Scala’s distinctively shaped characters call attention to the physical presence of typography; at the same time, their design allows the letters to recede into the texture of words, enabling the process of reading to move forward with comfort and ease.”

* Robin Kinross, “Non-Lining Figures: On Recent Dutch Type Design” in Ellen Lupton, editor, Graphic Design and Typography in the Netherlands: A View of Recent Work (The Cooper Union and Princeton Architectural Press,). Set in Scala, published in 1992.

Writing with Scala   
Download the specimen  (PDF  564 Kb)

© Ellen Lupton. First published in ‘Made with FontFont’, FSI FontShop International, 2006