Ephemeral remains of Stephen Coles.
Writer, editor, typographer.
Oakland and Berlin.

Background image: BonBon Kakku
Title typeface: Times New Roman

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Posts tagged by Stewf


1955–59 Jaguar 3.4-litre (Mark 1) (by Stephen Coles)

I shot this (and many others) today at Classic Remise in Berlin. The renovated tram depot is a massive showcase for antique automobiles, complete with restoration parts dealers and specialist body shops.

Maybe it’s the delirious result of looking at nothing but supermodel cars all day, but I see in this photo a man’s chest overlaid with the shape of a woman’s hips.

Are you delirious about this stuff too? Be among friends! Join us at 2:00 pm this Saturday for glühwein and cookies. Fans of cars and/or letters will gather at Mota Italic in Prenzlauer Berg where the Chromeography exhibition is still on display.

Chromeography Exhibition: The Logo

Collaborating with Laura Serra on the exhibition logo was a delight. I tossed her a disparate pile of photos from the collection and (short of a few final touches) she came back with this.

She managed to balance the flowing style of her natural freehand lettering with the more mechanical nature of mid-century emblems cut from metal. It clearly references several decades of classic automotive brightwork without leaning too heavily on any one example or era. The allusions are obvious yet the mark is completely original. This thing really could exist on a car or refrigerator made anytime between 1930 and 1965.

Two objects — one for the title wall (on Laura’s Bel Air silhouette) and one for the window — were milled with a slightly angled bevel and sprayed with a chromesque coating.

More photos of the show later, but for now it’s best seen in person.

Thanks to Rob Keller of Mota Italic for these photos.


3 years later, I keep coming back to this street art I found in London. I still don’t know what it says or how it was made, and I still love it.

Update: Well, now I feel silly.This is not a tag or random scribble, it’s the logo of a design studio: Fin International. After posting this on my blog James Clarke of Type Worship heard from someone who once worked with them. Kind of a bummer to spoil the intrigue, but you gotta hand it to them for a great mark and a minimal street presence.

Fleurs Coiffeur Liqueur:

Vienna, Austria
Stephen Coles

One of my all-time favorites.

(via fleurs-coiffeur-liqueur)

Last Friday, we preached the gospel of Chromeography to the citizens of Berlin. Hear the short story of how the site came to be and learn a little bit about car emblem design and history.

Thanks to my smart and talented friends for participating in Typographica’s “Favorite Typefaces of 2011”.

Subaru Sambar and American (GMC?) pickup truck. A few years ago I spotted these two friends in my Oakland neighborhood. I so wanted to put that little Sambar in my pocket, but all I could take were a few photos. My shot of the lovely chrome badge ended up in a variety of Subaru newspaper ads and online promotions.

Subaru Sambar

If Stone Phillips had been a talk show host in the 1970s, not a newsmagazine anchor from the 1990s.

Typeface: Washington (modified)

Chromeography is looking a bit shinier this morning. I finally updated Chris Hamamoto’s aging site design that served us well for over two years. Thanks to a (heavily modified) Narnia theme, the thumbnail grid now fills the window with uncropped images. Navigate via the dropdown menu at the top. (If someone wanted to draw me a simple stick shifter or dashboard toggle or some other cute icon to replace the ‘+’ I wouldn’t complain.) All text is set in FF DIN Round, a typeface with a mix of craft, engineering, and industrial history that fits our topic well.

I’ve packed the Chromeography sidebar with tags. Now you can navigate by color, era, car make/model, lettering style, and motif. More to come.

Honda Fit, the New Civic Wagon


Bill is a 1990 Honda Civic Wagon. The name was embroidered on a classy carpet dashboard cover when my sister and her husband bought the car, and it stuck. I inherited Bill in 2002 and adored him. He’s reliable (like any Honda), functional, and despite his compact size (shorter than most sedans), he can lug around quite a bit of junk. Even as the odometer neared the 250,000 mile mark, I was vowing to never buy another car until I found one like Bill.


I found that car when Honda released the Fit. The 2007–08 Fit was a design that had been in production in Japan and Europe for years. It finally arrived in the U.S. just as our backwards country was finally catching on to the worldwide small car movement. Of course, it’s not as sharp and boxy as my beloved Bill, but not quite as conventional and bulbous as most of the lame cars designed in the last 20 years. Unfortunately the 2009 redesign took a turn in that direction.

The Fit is essentially the return of the Honda Civic Wagon, which they discontinued the year after Bill was born. Miraculously, they share the same engine and cargo capacity, form factor, and very similar dimensions. I couldn’t have found a better successor.

1990 Civic Wagon 2WD2008 Fit Sport
Original MSRP$10,325$15,270
Tech Specs
Engine1.5L I41.5L I4
MPG Hwy3434
MPG City3128
Transmission5-Speed Manual5-Speed Manual
Horsepower92 109
Fuel Capacity11.910.8
Turning Radius32.2 ft.34.4 ft.
Front Headroom39.4 in.40.6 in.
Rear Headroom38 in.38.6 in.
Front Legroom41.2 in.41.9 in.
Rear Legroom33.2 in.33.7 in.
EPA Cargo21.5 cu.ft.21.3 cu.ft.
Curb Weight2335 lb.2471 lb.
Wheelbase98.4 in.96.5 in.
Length161.7 in.157.4 in.
Width66.1 in.66.2 in.
Height56.1 in.60 in.
Honda Civic Wagon, Honda Fit Honda Civic Wagon, Honda Fit Honda Civic Wagon, Honda Fit 2008 Honda Fit Sport

I have the Sport model with an angular body kit, fog lamps, extra speakers, and a spoiler, because I find spoilers on hatchbacks to be ridiculous and awesome. More pics.

So what happened to Bill? He’s still in the family, so to speak. He was adopted by my good friends, Frank Grießhammer and Tânia Raposo. Frank and Tânia have already treated Bill well with repairs and upgrades. Bill even has his own Twitter and Instagram accounts! It feels good to know my old pal is only a short trip to San Jose away.

Stüf key photo by Tânia.

Fahrzeugübergabe Fahrzeugübergabe!

There’s only thing left to do: swap out the horrendous Fit chromeography and replace it with the old Civic emblem.

2008 Honda Fit Sport 1990 Honda Civic Wagon

Locker Triptychs

These patterns are made from a single photo, shot and edited entirely on the iPhone. The photo was cropped and saved in 3 color variations using Camera+, then composed with Diptic.

There’s a bank of multicolored lockers at Stockholm’s Fotografiska (Photography) Museum. I took a half-hearted angle shot of the room and thought nothing more of it until later at the cafe when we were messing around on our phones. I cropped the photo to hide everything but the color of the lockers and rotated it. That crop represents each of the ⅓ columns in these images.

FontBook for iPad

As a contributor to the previous edition of FontBook, I’m very proud to be a small part of this new version. (Thank you, Jürgen Siebert!) It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to print, but the iPad incarnation offers many thousands more entries and samples that are interactive and updatable. That means the typefaces shown, the classifications Indra Kupferschmid applied, and the “see also” cross references that Yves Peters and I created are not set in stone. Rather than printing supplements and errata, we simply edit a database. Rather than being stuck with a book that is out of date the moment it’s off the press, FontBook app users have a guide that is perpetually more current and useful.

While most of this data is on the web at FontShop.com, the iPad experience is unique. This format solves problems with navigation, hierarchy, and interaction that aren’t as easily addressed in a desktop web browser. A website has its own advantages, but this is a more natural evolution of the book. It is truly the best typeface reference in the best format possible.

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