Postcard from... Disney Studios


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The Independent Online

Spend a day at Disney Studios in Burbank, California, and you’ll begin to appreciate the attention to detail this hallowed institution pays not only to its films or the rides at Disneyland, but also to its work environment. On a visit to Disney last week I was struck by the uniformity of the Art Deco font used in all the studio’s signage: from the signs pointing to the car park, to the ones in the loos entreating people to wash their hands.

It turns out the font is a custom typeface developed for Disney and named after the man who originally designed it: Kem Weber. The Berlin-born Weber was hired by Walt Disney himself to be the principal architect for the 51-acre studio complex, which was built using the profits from Disney’s 1937 smash hit, Snow White.

Perhaps Weber’s most famous design was the “Airline” Chair, a wonderfully streamlined piece of furniture created for use in Disney’s offices and projection rooms in 1939. A mere 300 were made, one of which sits in the office of a producer I interviewed during my visit. He loved the chair so much, he said, that while on a years-long stint at Disney’s European HQ, he insisted it be kept in storage so nobody could nick it. Weber died in 1963, but his furniture is still treasured at Disney – and so is his font.