Fontwatch: Coffee Garden (Symbols) Sanjang: A Lithos Discussion (In Brief)
Situated just off the Virgil/Silverlake/Temple/Beverly mindfuck, has wisely chosen a reversed, all-caps bold on its brown faÃ§ade. Specifically, they’ve opted for Lithos Black for the English speakers. You may recall Lithos, designed by the inimitable Carol Twombly (yes that Carol Twombly…Myriad, anyone?) for Adobe in 1989, as being the system font widely misunderstood (and misused) as Something Junglish throughout the 1990s.
Lithos = Jungle Safari? This is simply not the case, font lovers. The font is as Greek as they come. So why is it considered a jungle font? Blame Universal Studios’ Jurassic Park vessel, if you want to start pointing fingers. This is Lithos. And this is Neuland, a very similar typeface with very similar Grecian overtones. The 1993 marketing blitz for Jurassic Park plastered the movie’s name in Neuland onto every possible item that wasn’t nailed down, if you’ll recall, and the aftermath of said brand pummelling found poor Lithos lumped in with the Neuland crowd, for good. For all its noble beginnings Lithos was, frankly, too damned similar to Neuland to be discerned as a separate face by the layman.
Egregious to say the least, but Universal was far from the first font chef to simmer up a Greek/Safari gumbo. This very lengthy yet ludicrously informative article gets to the bottom of why both faces are now commonly used to signify “all things Africa” for better or worse. Snippet from the end:
Neuland has found its way into Hollywood, used in such films as Jurassic Park, Tarzan, and Jumanji. Subaru used Lithos prominently in the logo for their new car, the Outback. Both fonts appear frequently on all sorts of extreme sports paraphernalia. These uses seem to indicate that in addition to Neuland and Lithos’ prior associations with informality, ineptitude, ugliness, cheapness, and unusability, they have since acquired qualities that suggest “jungle,” “safari,” and “adventure”–in short, Africa.
Background info aside, I’m still pointing to Jurassic Park as the driving catalyst in what appears at surface to be one of the most blatant face-usage hijacks of the modern age. Back to our Garden of Sanjang Coffee, though. One must immediately consider the possibility that is attempting to return Lithos to its Grecian roots. Truly, the Garden of Coffee may be subtly and steadily tapping into the transplants’ collective subconscious for, as anyone who’s ever purchased a cup of coffee in New York will attest, Greek lettering shall be equated with coffee until the end of the earth. Wise choice, Coffee Garden Symbols Sanjang.
Wise choice indeed.