Functions and Paths of an Emerging Digital Foundry
In PostScript – a programming language developed by Adobe to communicate to a printer what graphics should look like – the command “lineto” does exactly what it says: it draws a straight line from one point to another. But the trajectory of the eponymous collaboration between Swiss graphic designers Cornel Windlin and Stephan Müller would be more appropriately traced with a Bezier curve. Lineto started as an informal association that was never meant to become a foundry. It then took a turn to become a side project selling typefaces, before growing into a “cult website” whose fonts “everybody [is] using,” including giants such as Dell, Airbnb or Spotify. Still, to see Lineto as a simple foundry does no justice to other roles it played – many not usually associated with similar businesses.
Retracing the evolution of what Windlin describes as “the operation” demonstrates the many more tangential lines it has taken, among other things an informal network, a trading place for ideas, a catalyst and a publishing platform. Furthermore, in a feedback effect, Windlin’s involvement and his use of personal and professional networks have led him to become a key node in the wider network of Swiss design. Analysing these many facets provides a fascinating insight into Cornel Windlin and Lineto’s influence not only on type design but also on the general discourse of the Swiss design scene. Moreover, because the evolution of Lineto went hand in hand with economical, technological and professional changes, mapping its trajectory contributes to retracing a section of the continually changing profession of graphic designer. […]