For this project, I chose to celebrate the life and works of Rosalind Franklin, an English chemist who made a crucial contribution to the discovery of the double helix DNA structure. I came across this story indirectly through a William Klein ‘Into the Light’ exhibition, I was captivated by the black & white visuals which strongly resembled DNA strands and felt compelled to work on this subject.

What really struck me during my research was to read the same Photo51 story told in a variety of different ways, some strongly accusing Watson & Crick, some calling this a misogynistic matter, others blaming it solely on an unfortunate coincidence. But one thing is sure, Rosalind Franklin passed away in 1958, 6 years after photographing the DNA double helix, and never got any credit for her work.

This is where the idea of a book came to mind: making an informational booklet (partnering with the Science Museum) that recounts the story of Rosalind’s dis- covery, with an unbiased tone and facts, confronting different views and relying on well founded historical archives of her works.

Given Rosalind’s expertise in X-ray crystallography, I wanted the booklet to ex- ist in two formats: black and white and using opposite inks respectively. I chose Arjowiggins’ Curious Matter Black True and Goya papers for their grittiness and tactility which gives the book a worn-out and weathered feeling as if it were an original, leaving a mark on the reader. Additionally, it renders the content and format more exciting and throws back to the analogue days. The bold, vintage typeface for the titles, Institut, conveys a distinct research lab feel yet soft-edged as if it were hand drawn or screen-printed.

DNA being the central subject of the story, I wanted to emphasise on the dou- ble-helix’s complementarity structure by styling the subheads and quotes in two lines, with extreme tracking to suggest a link between individual letters, just like a nucleotide chain (A C G T). These are set in the monospaced font Decima to give a scienti c, mechanised aesthetic. Additionally, to accentuate the science behind Rosalind’s discovery, I implemented a microscope-inspired ‘zoom’ to highlight keywords/titles within the story, creating a natural ow for the reader across the pages. The page number and running head are set like microscope speci cations, with the monospaced, clinical typeface. KCL-RDCMB stands for King’s College London - Randall Centre for Cell & Molecular Biophysics, which is where Rosalind Franklin was assigned to work on DNA.

Writing back Rosalind Franklin into history meant bringing the story up to date and making accessible to a larger audience. For that I decided to use a modern- ist typography for the body, Founders Grotesk, a font which attempts to revive the founding grotesque classics of the early 20th century. This contemporary revival felt appropriate to promote a punchy refresh of the forgotten story. The loose spacing gives a relaxed yet assertive stance to the text, creating a nice ow to the reader’s eyes/ keeping interest to the eye of younger readers.



Won ISTD Student
Awards 2018


Mathéo Delannoy

Next Project