You've seen it come between the famous dynamic duo Batman & Robin, and the infamous couple Bonnie & Clyde. Adolescents carve it into their desktops between two names to signify undying love.
But what exactly is this strange-looking symbol called an ampersand? And why would I choose it as the name of my company?
The '&' symbol itself was devised over 2000 years ago by Cicero's secretary, Marcus Tullius Tiro, as a cursive, one-stroke form of the Latin work for et, which means and.
As for the word ampersand, the answer may seem a bit surprising. Coined in 1835, it's an alteration of the phrase "& per se and," read "and per se and." Literally, this means "the character '&' by itself is the word 'and'."
Today, the & symbol is incorporated into the design of every new font and is part of every existing Roman alphabet. When creating a new typeface, a designer can inject his own artistic flair into the ampersand character.
So, why did I choose an & as my studio's name?
During my college days at Rhode Island School of Design, I fell in love with the design of the symbol in a particular font called Caslon. The font has been used in some of our nation's important documents such as the Declaration of Independence.
William Caslon, the font's creator, was a lover of music. With the Ampersand, he wanted to evoke feelings of fluidity and musicality. It's even reminiscent of a G-clef.
It's the simplicity of the symbol I admired then, and still do today: how one simple character was created to communicate so much. It's the reason for the name. And it's the philosophy by which I live and work everyday—the beauty of simplicity.
Dan Gonzalez: Founder, Ampersand Design Group.