The second part of a Q&A with pioneering designer Robbie de Villiers, who created The Mission’s website and signature font, Ellume.
What is your personal favorite among the fonts you have developed and why?
Robbie: I love Ellume. I believe Ellume is the first and only typeface created for a church denomination in the United States and perhaps the world! I am also proud of the fact that I created a font called Werk that is the official typeface for the oldest city in Germany, Erfurt. More recently I designed, together with another type designer here in Chattanooga, a typeface for our city called Chatype. It is the first city in the United States to have its own official typeface and the first city in the world to have a crowd-funded typeface.
I also love Petronella, which is a font I created based on my mother’s handwriting that is inspired by letters and journals she wrote during the second world war to her family in the Netherlands. She emigrated from the Netherlands to South Africa as a nurse, right before WW2 started and no postal service was available. She wrote the letters and journal entries faithfully until the end of the war when it was sent back to her relatives to read.
What was your goal as you helped develop The Mission’s overall website and look? How do you feel that this look helps express The Mission’s identity?
Robbie: I wanted to convey ancient-future in a simple and elegant format. I believe the simplicity of the site combined with key Celtic-rooted imagery helps convey who we are. I believe the three streams symbol with logo combination with the use of Ellume in the headers reinforces our brand. I also wanted to make sure that the site be specifically formatted so that when accessed with smartphones or iPads, it would be optimized and formatted for each device.
I also wanted to make sure the Mission would be self-sufficient in updating the website, so I made use of a WYSIWYG (“what-you-see-is-what-you-get”) software that makes updating a breeze. So far it’s working very well!
What did you enjoy about working with The Mission on this project?
Robbie: I loved discovering and exploring a variety of the Mission’s churches through meeting with the leaders of those churches. I was so inspired by each of them for their love of the Lord and their humble leadership. I loved their generous spirit in making themselves available to me for this project. I had so much fun in Vancouver with Bishop Silas and in Dallas with Bishop Philip and Claudia. Both H. Miller and Paul Sorensen gave me so much freedom and access.
I think the most enjoyable part of the project was that I included Paul and H in my discovery and creative process—all my notes, sketches and thoughts were shared in real time with them. Getting instant feedback from them allowed me to explore deeper and further. Frankly, they were my ideal client! They saw and realized the scope of the project and made it come to life for me —that made me so much more motivated. What an incredible privilege it was to be able to create a brand identity for my own denomination!
The culmination of the project for me was seeing and hearing The Mission come to life with the opening of Winter Conference 2014 in Houston. Along with the worship band, we were all singing The Mission’s Sound Logo “Be Thou my Vision” (I commissioned Fr. Chris Sorensen of Mission Chattanooga to compose it). The Bishops were walking down the center aisle, and the words of the song were projected on the overhead screens set in Ellume… it was truly an emotional moment for me!
Learn more about Robbie.