Rod McDonald had the first sketches for the Egyptian Slate™ typeface design in the works even before the original sans serif branch of the family had been released. He recalls, “I was considering the addition of a serif complement to the sans serif designs from the get-go. After a number of trials incorporating different serif styles, it became readily apparent that a slab serif version would be the best route to take.”
Egyptian Slate™ History
McDonald soon discovered that the openness of the letterforms in the Slate™ design allowed him to add the strong slab serifs without losing any of the character of the original design. “I was surprised that Egyptian Slate held its own with Slate,” recalls McDonald, “but I was also stunned when I realized that it was going to be a lot more work to add the serifs than I initially thought. Incorporating serifs into a sans serif design throws all the weights off.” To maintain visual parity between the two designs, McDonald had to change the basic weights of the new slab serif design. Adjustments were needed on every character to compensate for the added visual weight of the serifs.
McDonald drew the roman designs; he then collaborated with Carl Crossgrove to create the italic counterparts. McDonald provided the foundational “control characters,” and Crossgrove built on these to produce the finished designs. “I had worked with Carl previously when he developed the condensed range for Slate,” says McDonald, “so I knew that the Egyptian Slate italics were in good hands.” The name Egyptian Slate came about in a rather unexpected way. From the beginning McDonald had trouble coming up with an appropriate name. He tried several, but none stuck. But when McDonald was in the final stages of the design, Robert Bringhurst – author of the acclaimed “Elements of Typographic Style” – happened to be visiting. On one occasion, McDonald was muttering about “slabs of Slate” and generally complaining about not being able to find the right name for this new typeface. Without missing a beat, Bringhurst offered, “Why don’t you call it Egyptian Slate”? This apt name stuck.