Persona is a display sans serif based on Hans Möhring’s Florida (c. 1931) – best known for its appearance in Ingmar Bergman’s film titles – and inspired by Renaissance letterforms characteristic of the Florentine architecture, painting and sculpture of the fifteenth century.

Such letterforms appear in Florence around 1400, gradually taking over from the Gothic capitals which were in fashion at the time, a change chronicled on the ledger tombs in the floor of the Basilica di Santa Croce, where a mixture of medieval and classical letterforms are inlaid in green marble. Lorenzo Ghiberti, who sculpted the bronze doors of the Baptistery (1424), referred to them as littera antiqua (lettere antiche in Italian) but they are actually more indebted to Carolingian and Romanesque capitals than to the ‘Trajan’ model of Ancient Rome.

The defining features of this letterform are tapered strokes and wedge-shaped (rather than seriffed) terminals; and although there is no such thing as a canonical Florentine letterform, the style is unmistakable, both primitive and eminently modern. One of its clearest incarnations might be found in the lettering on the cantoria for Santa Maria del Fiore (now in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo) realised by Lucca della Robbia in 1431–37. ‘Perhaps the most conspicuous characteristic of this early lettering is its sensitivity’ wrote Nicolete Gray, adding that in this case ‘Roman confidence is replaced by something more personal.’

While Persona’s Regular and Medium styles retain some of the shapes characteristic of Florida, in particular the thin monoline bowls of D, P or R, and the asymmetric O; they are also imbued with the Florentine model: distinctively flared terminals, long middle bars on E or F, and a S that is intentionally falling backwards. The Bold style however dispenses with the flared terminals and becomes more closely related to Cassandre’s Peignot (1937). Each style includes three sets of capital letters of different heights (uppercase, lowercase and superscript/subscript), that can be combined and nested together in the spirit of inscriptional texts.

Persona was first used for the inscriptions designed by John Morgan studio for The Order of St Augustine’s church in Hammersmith, London. Read more about the award-winning restoration and refurbishment project in the Abyme Revue.

  • Designed by John Morgan and Adrien Vasquez, 2017–22
  • Available in 3 styles (uppercase only) from £120
  • Trial fonts are available on request