As Bodoni is Italian and Didot is French, Brunel is a British modern. Together, they share many commonalities of a style that swept away all that came before it in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: each displays a higher than normal contrast between thick and thin strokes, vertical stress, and a reduction and rationalization of form. In detail, however, they are distinct in showing how regional and nuanced the style can be. While the continental moderns achieved a fame that has outlasted their masters (how many Didot and Bodoni revivals are there?), a particular name or style of a British modern has never been as dominant.
Brunel encapsulates the qualities that identify the British variant of the modern style. It combines European influences with a set of more localized details and traditions that signify a starting point for the stylistic departure of the nineteenth century and the visual revolution that followed. As such, Brunel represents the starting point for the Commercial Classics series and embodies the ideas which the first designs explore. From the structure inherent in Brunel, we can see how these were developed into the fat faces, slabs, Italians, and sans forms that were the defining styles of the nineteenth century.
Larger and Larger
Bolder and Bolder
The modern marks the beginning of the nineteenth-century explosion in new letterforms. The first of the moderns created by Drury for the Caslon foundry were exemplary of the style, showing a maturity and confidence in execution that match those of the continental masters. In Brunel, Drury also becomes the starting point for Commercial Classics, with this revival encapsulating the aims of the new venture, taking the past as a starting point from which to recreate and expand, offering something new, and—most importantly—useful with what contemporary designers expect from modern families.