Typeface Tuesday – Rockwell

Despite being developed in 1934 I will always see Rockwell as a kind of 1980’s typeface.  We used it a fair amount at MW Publicity shortly after I first started and all that usage has secured it in a time and place for me.  This is a shame as Rockwell is a versatile typeface which is underused.  It is what is known as a slab serif, where the serifs are angular and blocky, rather than the delicate flicks and embellishments on most fonts.  It was designed by Monotype as a very geometric face, with neat angles and lines, and the Os as perfect circles.

Typeface Tuesday Rockwell

It is this geometric nature which gives Rockwell its greatest usefulness.  It is ideal for engineering, building, design and other projects which need to project a feeling of accuracy while also being solid and having impact.  It is clear and very easy to read which makes it ideal as a headline font without precluding it as a body text font.  It is occasionally used in newspapers as a clean headline font for this reason.

Perhaps strangely the most famous uses of Rockwell are not in fields which make use of its solid geometric shapes; on the Guinness Book Of Records (during the 90s), the London Docklands Light Railways (throughout the 80s and 90s) and for the CW TV channel.

There is a condensed version of the font which I believe is redundant as the well designed shapes and balance is lost when the width is reduced.  This makes such characters as the eye catching capital A and the Os somewhat less interesting.  I suppose, somewhat sadly, that Rockwell suffers by being both timeless and dated at the same time.  It harkens back to an earlier age of engineering and design while remaining a clean, clear and useful font.

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