The London Underground is updating its font

Image: Monotype.

The London Underground’s visual identity – its roundels, its colours, its much-loved map – has an almost legendary quality.

As such, the design world was sent all a-quiver when it learned that TfL was planning to redesign Johnson, its iconic font, “for the digital age”. What if it wasn't so classy? What if the lovely square-shaped dot on the i was lost?? What if- 


What you see above is Johnson100, the first update to the Johnson font made since the 1970s. And, as you might have notived, it looks, to the naked, non-design eye, essentially identical to the font Londoners see every day. 

According to Monotype, the type company behind the update, the changes were made to make the letters more readable on digital screens, and bring back the soul and quirk of the original font designed by Edward Johnson . As far as we can see, this has manifested itself in very slightly wider letters and a reinstated distinctive diagonal bowl on the lower-case g:

Yes, it is different. Look harder. 

To be fair, though, the biggest innovation in the new font family is two brand-new weights: hairline and thin. These will be used largely online, and promise to be more readable than the impact-heavy, slightly overwhelming paret font. According to Monotype this required designers to strip [the] typeface of its mass and find its skeleton. Which sounds pretty tricky, really. 

Luckily, even these new weights maintain the diamond above the i and j:

Monotype has also released this video with more detail on how they developed the new design:

The typeface will be rolled out from July this year, though signage in stations will only be replaced when necessary, so you'll see the font online first. Let's be honest, though – it's not like you'll actually notice. 

All images: Monotype.


UK moves to ease lockdown, London mayor moves to investigate Covid-19 inequalities

Schools and shops are beginning to open their doors here in the UK, amidst concerns that the government is easing lockdown too early. Outdoor markets and car showrooms are allowed to re-open from today, while classrooms are reopening for children in reception, year 1 and year 6.

However, as many as a million children – half of those due to return – are expected to stay home due to safety concerns from both parents and schools. And overnight, the Association of Directors of Public Heath cast doubt on the government’s claims that the UK was meeting the five tests for easing lockdown. “Over the weekend we have seen signs that the public is no longer keeping as strictly to social distancing as it was,” it said in a statement. “A relentless effort to regain and rebuild public confidence and trust following recent events is essential.”

Meanwhile, London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people who work for the city’s government will be offered risk assessments in an effort to tackle the health inequalities thrown up by the Covid-19 crisis.

The service – which will be open to staff of the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade, among others – will consider the physical and mental health needs of all vulnerable staff workers.

The disproportionate impact the panedemic has had on ethnic minority communities has been a topic of concern to the mayor for some time. In a column for the Guardian in April, he noted that, despite making up just 14% of the UK population, BAME patients made up a third of critical covid cases. He called on the government to investigate, and asked the  Equality and Human Rights Commission to do the same the following month.

Today’s statement from City Hall notes that, according to the Office for National Statistics figures, black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die from coronavirus than white men and women, after taking into account age and socio-demographic factors. And a study by City Hall’s Intelligence Unit shows that London’s highest covd-19 death rate is in the east London borough of Newham, “where 82 per cent of the population are BAME, one in three is in insecure employment and there are high levels of deprivation, obesity and diabetes”.

More from City Hall here.