Professor Phil Baines

Professor of Typography

Central Saint Martins

Research interests

Typography, graphic design, public lettering, signing, Penguin Books.

Research statement

My design practice includes high profile, one-off commissions; general graphic design for arts organisations; and type design. Underlying themes include an interest in history & experimentation, and in the relationship between form & content.

History & experimentation are most obvious in the award-winning Great Ideas cover designs for Penguin Books. Two series of these have been published (2004 and 2005) with a third is being prepared.

Ideas about form and content inform my approach to book and publication design and vary according to the requirements of a particular client. For some, my hand is almost invisible and the design arises out of careful collaborative discussions between myself, the gallery, and the artist or curator as appropriate; on other occasions, a more subjective approach is taken. Current work includes a books by Richard Layzell (for ResCen); about Alan Aldridge (for Thames & Hudson); and about Alison Turnbull's installation Vinus vitera L. at One Vine Street (for Matt's Gallery).

A commission by Neville Brody for his Fuse project in 1991 led me into type design, and that first font gained considerable notoriety, and subsequent wider exposure as a 'Fuse Classic' when released by Fontshop International. In 2003 Linotype released Vere Dignum. Other fonts are in various stages of production or feature in my own design.

My 'research' interests are of two main kinds. One strand is closely related to my practice and includes aspects of graphic design history. Penguin by design has become central to this research into different aspects of the company's design continues.

The other strand is an on-going photographic documentation of aspects of public lettering and signing. Much of this is a collaboration with Catherine Dixon and has resulted in articles, a book, website and many presentations. Other work includes documentation of the King's Cross railway lands.


Current students and thesis titles

Mike HarkinsContemporary processes of text typeface design.

Olga Maria Surawska, Discovery in Flux: Adventure and Safety Factors in Exploratory Walking in Changing Urban Landscapes.

Elena VeguillasArchitectural lettering and corporate identity: early branding on commercial buildings.

Completed students and thesis titles

Pedro Almeida, Brand Archives: The rescuing of locally specific brand imagery as a graphic design response to the globalization of visual identity.

Alison Barnes, Realising the geo/graphic landscape of the everyday.

Alistair Ross, Text Integration in Multilingual Public Information Documents.


Selected research outputs