When you're building an operating system there are a great amount of things you must consider, but high on that list are the typefaces you want to offer. For BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry sought out something new. Something easily readable. Something that could be extended across many areas and most importantly, looked visually great. For that, they turned to Monotype Imaging and worked with them to use a font we all now know as Slate.
Slate however; wasn't created specifically for BlackBerry. It was originally released in 2008 by Rod McDonald, a typeface designer who lives in Lake Echo, Nova Scotia. The design happened after Rod worked on a legibility study with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind with goal being to create a typeface that looked great both on screen as well as in print and eventually, it was licensed to Monotype Imaging.
"I wasn't sure if that was feasible. Screens were pretty crude back then. Until you see it on a device like this, you really don't know if you've got it right or not. Seeing what BlackBerry has done, I'm going, 'omigod!' It's much better onscreen than I thought it would be."
In the end, BlackBerry had narrowed it down to two options and they ultimately decided to go with Slate. Now many new variations have been added and Slate comes in a total of six weights including regular, light and italic and has seen many translations. In total, upwards of 9,000 characters make up Slate and Rod has been inspired to continue creating typefaces and exploring new ideas for many years to come.
Being born and raised in Halifax myself, this is pretty awesome to me and to be perfectly honest, I had hoped to be able to interview Rod after having learned the story of Slate on a recent trip to Waterloo. Since there is now plenty of coverage surrounding the font, its story, and Rod, I would just like to say to Rod, should you come across the write-up and should you ever want to grab a coffee sometime, I would love to hear more and I will certainly bring you a BlackBerry Z10 of your own should you not have one already. It looks beautiful on the device and many thanks for creating such a beautful typeface.