The Crystal Goblets
A Study of Ubiquitous Typefaces

The project looks into comparing various different typefaces (six in the print version) of both serifs and sans-serifs which seem almost identical in a small size and appear invisible. They were in fact designed to be invisible. It looks into the peculiar pre-perception of these typefaces. It then compares the physical attributes of these typeface. The book is designed to introduce novice designers to book typefaces and make sure every detail counts.

Below is the print version of the Crystal Goblets

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“Imagine that you have before you a flagon of wine. You may choose your own favourite vintage for this imaginary demonstration, so that it be a deep shimmering crimson in colour. You have two goblets before you. One is of solid gold, wrought in the most exquisite patterns. The other is of crystal-clear glass, thin as a bubble, and as transparent. Pour and drink; and according to your choice of goblet, I shall know whether or not you are a connoisseur of wine. For if you have no feelings about wine one way or the other, you will want the sensation of drinking the stuff out of a vessel that may have cost thousands of pounds; but if you are a member of that vanishing tribe, the amateurs of fine vintages, you will choose the crystal, because everything about it is calculated to reveal rather than to hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain.”

Beatrice Warde | 1930

Designers are problem solvers; their job is to designate the appropriate key, or a design or one challenge. As Paul Rand would say:

“Every problem of form and content is different, which dictates that the rules of the game are different, too”


Because different challenges will most likely have different outcomes. When one is approached with a new problem, it’s back to square one again. This forms the joy (and the pain) of design.

Today we are surrounded with an abundance of typefaces. They come in various forms, sizes and weight. Some are beautiful, and some are rather sordid. Some of them are so difficult to distinguish apart, especially the ones that are used in large body of texts.

Even experienced graphic designers set their books in these typefaces. It is true that some typefaces are used to shout out to the audience, but what typefaces do you use for talking? The fundamental goal of type is to be read, types are symbols, a physical forms of speech. The form of typefaces has a large influence on the tone of the message it contains. This is similar to how fast, slow, smooth or powerful a speech is, depending on the speakers’ voice.

So now we have established that there are typefaces that are made for talking, it is also important to realize that picking a typeface is like picking a person to talk about certain subject. A right typeface of this one job could be wrong for the other. A designer will have to get to know typefaces pretty well in order to choose them to say the right message.



“Congenial typography is the result of the successful use of a typeface, where atmosphere value and the actual content of the words set in that type share meaning. Harmony of form and content is exemplified by a love story printed in a delicate and warm typeface. If the atmosphere value of the type used would be one of rigidity and anger, the effect of that same story on the reader would be gravely disturbed, whether the reader would be consciously aware of this or not.”