The Lettering of David Kindersley
Born in Codicote in 1915, David Kindersley was a British typeface designer and stone letter-carver, the grandson of the Arts and Crafts potter Sir Edmund Elton. He was educated at St. Cyprian’s School, a preparatory school for boys in Eastbourne, and later, attended Marlborough College for three years, at which time he left due to rheumatoid arthritis.
Kindersley traveled to Paris and enrolled at the Academie St. Julian where he studied French and sculpture; he continued his sculptural studies under the Induni brothers, Peter Guiseppe and Joseph Vincent, both of whom were marble carvers in London. In December of 1934, Kindersley became an apprentice to Arts and Crafts sculptor and typeface designer Eric Gill at his workshop in the market town of High Wycombe. While at the workshop, he worked on several important commissions, including St. John’s College in Oxford, London’s Dorset House, and Bentalls, a department store designed by architect Maurice Webb and located in Kingston upon Thames.
David Kindersley left Gill’s workshop in 1936 and opened his own shop on the River Arun, where he continued commission work sent by Gill. On the death of Eric Gill in 1940, he settled Gill’s affairs and continued work at his own shop until 1945, at which time he relocated to the county of Cambridgeshire. Here he developed his own style and methods, his decorative carving embellishments, his use of heraldic ornamentation, and his taste for carving lettering on slate.
In addition to teaching calligraphy at the Cambridge Art School in the late 1940s, Kindersley received a major commission for carved relief maps to be placed in the American War Cemetery. He also became a consultant for film titles, through the influence of his cousin Sir Arthur Elton, documentary filmmaker and head of film production at Shell Oil. A major commission under taken by Kindersley
In 1946, Kindersley established his first completely equipped letter-cutting workshop at Dales Barn in the village of Barton. He was joined by his wife and stone-cutter, Lida Lopes Cardozo, in 1976. A major commission undertaken by Kindersley and his wife was the distinctive large metal gates of the British Library which transformed its artistic “British Library” metal letters into a functional use. This project was followed by the gates at Queens’ College’s porter lodge; inspired by the same principle, the gates are composed of the letters “Queens College” wrought out of metal.
David Kindersley is known for his accurate letter-spacing system. He designed the “Mo T Serif” typeface in 1952, which was originally submitted for the British Ministry of Transport for road signs. Kindersley created the “Itek Bookface” and, in collaboration with Will Carter, designed the book typeface “Octavian” for the Monotype Corporation in 1961. The Cardozo Kindersley Workshop publishes a number of typefaces based on Kindersley’s work, including the 2005 “Kindersley Street”, also known as “Kindersley Grand Arcade”, which is based on his 1952 “Mo T Serif”.
David Kindersley authored two major works on typeface, the 1976 “Optical Letter Spacing for New Printing Systems” and the “Computer-Aided Letter Design”. Very interested in Sufism, he also published a book “Graphic Sayings” which contains his typeface plates bearing sayings by the Sufi mystics taken from the writings of Sufi author Idries Shah.
Note: Kindersley’s workshop, now known as The Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, relocated to Victoria Road, Cambridge, in 1977. Upon Kindersley’s death in 1995, Cardozo, along with Graham Beck and a crew of five, continued the design, carving, printing and gild work.