Ilya Ruderman: We were once approached by Danila Shorokh and Tatiana Wolzinger who then worked with the management company of Moscow-City (Moscow’s central business district). They told us that they needed to solve two issues. Firstly, Moscow-City had to somehow determine its self-identity, to clearly identify itself among hundreds of powerful brands residing in their skyscrapers. Secondly, there was a need to organise navigation through the district which is quite complex: endless passages-crossings, secret cafés that one couldn’t find without signage. And Danila asked us to design a typeface that would be good for both identity and navigation purposes, would be readable at any angle, and at the same time had a certain inner charisma that would work well, let’s say, in a brandbook.
We designed several prototypes, one of which eventually turned into City Sans. This option was different in the fact that it was a combination of a certain geometric sans that had many forms close to simple geometric figures and an original design of terminals — not only round, but also various diagonal ones. It has these vertical cuts which remind of the remains of a large square pixel. Danila liked this feature a lot — he saw there an answer to his expectations of what a corporate identity should look like. After experimenting with several media in the navigation system, the guys realised that it also worked great in signage.
What’s interesting about City Sans is that (because of the navigation’s specific nature) it has lots of icons. Most of those icons were designed by Yura Ostromentsky who adapted them to the typeface’ graphics. Danila’s team added a few more — for example, the one depicting all the Moscow-City skyscrapers.
They did not purchase exclusive rights on the typeface. So, we later introduced more styles to it — primarily italics which were not needed in the original task, — and released it on type.today under the name of Navigo.