Robin Rendle

Systems, Mistakes, and the Sea

It might be the start of a new year but I will never quit my rambling nonsense: over the holidays I wrote a piece about design systems and the field of web design called Systems, Mistakes, and the Sea. I argue that everyone in the field is, well, pretty dang frightened to tell the truth about their work and how it’s extremely difficult building software at scale.

It also gave me the opportunity to do a bit of typesetting and I set myself a rule as I began designing it. I only wanted to use typefaces in my collection, as it’s all too easy to spend a month scouring the web for something just right.

In the end I chose Caponi by Commercial Type for the heading and Newzald by Klim Type for the body copy. And I had stumbled upon this painting of a shipwreck by William Bradford that I knew would hold the whole thing together:

There’s something so fun about this to me, about remixing all these elements together—typography, art and writing—in order to create something that feels new. For instance Caponi looks like the sort of thing that would be carved into the hull of a ship to spell out its name and Newzald looks as if you would set a modern printing of Moby Dick with, so it was perfect. For the break elements I also fashioned the nautical star which I hope is not too cheesy here.

Anyway, if you’re interested in front-end development and design systems then let me know what you think of it—this one took an awful long time to figure out.