A note on the development of the typeface

Celeste was designed between 1990 and 1994. My intention was to make a typeface for lengthy texts, which was easy to read and had a strong but subtle character. In general, Celeste can be categorized as a ‘modern face’ (sometimes called Didone): that is, without an explicitly calligraphic structure to the letters, and with a vertical stress. But I also wanted to avoid strict modularity in the letters and so I introduced certain dynamic aspects. The reason for introducing some dynamic features into the letters was to add some variety to the rhythm, which I felt would be helpful to readers. In this sense, Celeste perhaps better fits retrospectively in to the ‘transitional’ category of typefaces, historically between ‘old face’ (Garalde) and ‘modern face’ (Didone), and of which the best-known example is Baskerville.

Celeste possesses certain features that make it useful for some contemporary purposes. The capital letters are quite subdued: they are not so tall as the ascenders of the lower-case letters, and they are not much heavier in weight than the lower-case. This gives text typeset in Celeste a very regular texture. This impression is aided also by the italic, which is not very cursive, providing a definite but not strident differentiation from the roman.

Having been designed especially for digital typesetting and lithographic printing, Celeste was made without any very thin parts in the letters, to avoid it looking weak, which is a problem with some other historical typefaces that have been adapted for today’s technology.

In 1998 a variant called Celeste Small text was added, especially for setting footnotes and other text in 8 point size and below. The weight and proportions were adapted for this purpose. Celeste Small Text was first used in the book
Paul Renner: the art of typography (London: Hyphen Press, 1998).

In 2000, the design of the diacritical marks were revised, to improve, for instance, the setting of French & Spanish, and two new weights (Extra Bold and Black) were added to the family.


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