Lost and Foundry: Campaign recovers the crumbling typefaces of Soho to help the homeless

The House of St Barnabas has launched Lost and Foundry. Developed by M&C Saatchi London and Fontsmith, the campaign sees the crumbling typefaces of Soho recovered to be sold online as a collection of fonts, to fund the charity's vital work with London’s homeless.

To develop the fonts, M&C Saatchi London collected images of forgotten lettering in Soho, with seven selected to be hand drawn and turned into a fully functioning font by Fontsmith. This involved adapting and extending the missing characters to make useful and crafted designs out of them, with it taking three months to digitise and design a workable series of fonts.

The fonts have also inspired seven original artworks from seven UK-based artists and designers famed for their use of typography. These works will be available to buy from the House of St Barnabas at the font launch event today, Tuesday 10 July. Each artist has used a different font from the collection. The artists contributing are Morag Myerscough, Anthony Burrill, Steven Wilson, Dangerous Minds, Smile, Supermundane and I Love Dust. Funds raised from the sale of artwork are being donated to the House.

The fonts, meanwhile, are available for purchase via the Fontsmith website, with all proceeds to be donated to The House of St Barnabas.

"The House of St Barnabas has existed in one form or another since 1846," said Sandra Schembri, Chief Encouragement Officer at The House of St. Barnabas. "That’s quite a legacy to build on. We’ve been operating as a social business and charity since 2013, and are proud of our innovative model which helps to support people affected by homelessness back into lasting work.

"But, for us to keep supporting people in this way, we need to keep innovating too. Lost & Foundry is the culmination of a unique partnership between the House, M&C Saatchi and Fontsmith which taps into Soho’s history, creativity and originality to help us raise vital funds and support more people back into paid work."

Jason Smith, Founder and Creative Director, Fontsmith, said: "I once heard a radio DJ saying to look up when you walk around London. That’s exactly what we did for this project. In Soho, you see this mix of architecture and lettering, plaques, neon, and an abundance of weathered signs. We’ve restored these with the aim of raising awareness of the House, and with the hope that the creative community of Soho and beyond purchases the fonts with this worthwhile charity in mind."

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