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Miscellaneous > 17.1 Original Typeface – Text

Cymru Wales Serif

by Smörgåsbord
Gold

OVERVIEW 
Created to compliment Cymru Wales Sans, (a past ‘Best of Show’ winner at EDA 2017), the Cymru Wales Serif is designed for longer, editorial reads, whilst retaining a unique Welsh character and ‘sense of place’ brought to the fore with a focus on the Welsh language’s unique digraphs. Using both typefaces together offer designers an extensive typographical richness and extensive hierarchy options. 
BRIEF 
To create a serif typeface representing Wales in an authentic and creative way and embodying the Nations’ history within the context of Britain and the world. To highlight and incorporate a series of digraphs allowing designers to introduce as much ‘sense of place’ and spirit as required. The typeface had to be designed to work alongside Cymru Wales Sans and is used exclusively by pan sector Welsh Government marketing communication teams and contracted external studios. A cornerstone of the Nation brand with the Welsh language centre stage. 
APPROACH 
As well as taking takes cues from the Welsh typographical heritage — such as Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin, (the Black Book of Carmarthen), and Llyfr Coch Hergest, (Red Book of Hergest), – we sought inspiration from other minority languages such as Icelandic and also Arabic script for its exuberant and cursive character forms. Our aim with Cymru Wales Serif was to create a contemporary European serif with a unique ‘sense of place’ baked in – a trait that its precursor – Cymru Wales Sans shares – but given its more flowing single-line gestures and cursive forms it displays additional character defining traits such as the open bowls that feature in the B, d, dd, g, P, R and &.
CULTURAL CONTEXT 
Cymraeg – Welsh – is one of the oldest living languages in Europe. Until 1850, 90% of Wales’ population spoke Welsh, but the language has since faced many challenges which at times almost led to its extinction. The 2019 population survey found that 875k, 29.8% of Wales’ inhabitants are able to speak Welsh. As the first Welsh digital typeface Cymru Wales works alongside the Welsh Government’s ambitious vision to increase the number of Welsh speakers to 1m by 2050. 
RESULT 
As is so often the case with a high profile rebrand the core logo or marque becomes the ‘hero’ element. However, with the Cymru Wales brand the bespoke font family quickly assumed this position, overtaking the Ddraig Goch (or Welsh Dragon). Since the launch of the typeface independent accessibility research has proven the core characters of ‘Cymru Wales Serif’ are more legible than ‘Times New Roman’. Rather than being deemed as ‘linguistic obstacles’ the digraphs were perceived as valuable educational legibility assets – highlighting the fact that they are actually different characters, that in turn have a different pronunciation, for example, when two consecutive ‘d’s are conjoined to form a Welsh ‘dd’ they have a radically different ‘sound’. “The Cymru Wales font family is an outstanding fusion of historic Welsh and contemporary, accessible typography. The trailblazing placement of disabled people at the heart of the Cymru Wales typeface design contributes directly to its high degree of legibility. The creation of unique Welsh digraphs provide a visual highlight to the phonic which is elegant, educational and quite simply genius. Once introduced into the public domain Cymru Wales has huge potential to promote a sense of place making Wales and the Welsh language very relevant in the 21st century.” 
David Burdus, Director, Burdus Access.

Agency
Credits
  • Creative Directors Dylan Griffith
  • Art Directors Alex Frew
  • Designers
  • Illustrators
  • Photographers
  • Editors
  • Copywriters
  • Type foundry Colophon
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