In 1994, ITC, the International Typeface Corporation, founded in 1969 in New York by Burns, Lubalin and Rondthaler, published its Bodoni. It was the fruit of a process conducted over approximately three years by a working group formed by Sumner Stone (artistic director), Holly Goldsmith (who had already worked on the Our Bodoni project), Janice Prescott Fishman, Ilene Strizver and Allan Haley (vice president of ITC).
The ITC Bodoni applied differences in design and proportions to the typeface in digital, although focussing on three «bands» of size rather than every single body. Hence, there was a design for the smallest body text, the ITC Bodoni Six, curated in the roman series by Goldsmith and based on Filosofia Bassano by Bodoni after a comparative analysis of examples found in the Manuale tipografico and in other volumes edited by Bodoni.
At the same time another design was developed, for large body text, curated by Fishman and named ITC Bodoni Seventytwo; this was modelled on Papale, the larger dimension Bodonian typeface: ITC Bodoni Seventytwo clearly corresponds more closely to the original model with respect to Bauer Bodoni.
Whereas the design for the middle ranging body text, ITC Bodoni Twelve, is the result of an electronic interpolation between the large and small series, curated by Sumner Stone.
The technique of interpolation was introduced in the seventies into the design of typefaces for photocomposition at the German foundry, URW, and then spread in the era of digital fonts. It permitted partial recovery of the quality typical of designed characters with opportune optical corrections for different sizes, a quality that was lost over time with the introduction of the first pantograph and then photocomposition. It consists in a weighted average or gradual passage from a point of departure to a point of arrival, modifying factors such as the thickness of strokes and hence the contrast of the letter.
The application of this process in the specific case of ITC is based on the fact that in reality Bodoni’s objective was always to design the same shape as regards the final optical perception of the reader; which is to say the reader should perceive the same design in all the bodies of text. The computer-implemented interpolation, duly guided by designers, was made to respect this end purpose.
The italic of the small series was drawn by Jim Parkinson, who joined the working group later, from the stockpile of a series of examples of the Bodonian prototype, while Stone carried out the designs for the italic in the large series, basing himself on various examples but with particular reference to the italic in the second larges series of Bodoni typefaces, the Imperiale.
All three series, besides having roman and italic, include small capital and small numerals as well as the weighted bold variant. They were successively accompanied by ornamental Bodonian elements developed in digital format and by the Seventytwo Swash Book Italic, a series of italic titles based on the «majuscole cancelleresche» del Manuale tipografico; both of these series were curated by Sumner Stone.
My understanding of Bodoni’s significance in the history of type forms increases as it continues to be revealed to me through different perspectives. He was responsible for the establishment of the “modern” letter as a standard form for text setting, a phenomenon which lasts to our present day in spite of aggressive counter-forces arrayed by those who draw their nourishment primarily from the Renaissance. He produced a new solution to the integration of the upper and lower case – a tension that had held for 300 years.
The transformation of the shape of the printed letter from old proportions to new did indeed mark a crucial transition in the history of typography and Bodoni’s contribution to this change was fundamental.