The Arkitypo project came about when one of our clients, Ravensbourne, asked if we were interested in developing a research project to test and show­case the in-house 3D prototyping skills and tech­no­logy at their site in Greenwich

We suggested they do something typographic – just the briefest period of research revealed very few examples of prototyping merged with graphic design. So we set ourselves the brief to develop an alphabet of 3D type. Each letterform is different, each in turn interprets its own alphabet.

So, for example, the ‘K’ is based on a type-face called Kabel, which was named in 1927 to com­mem­orate the newly completed transatlantic telephone cable. The ‘H’ is built from dozens of logos that use the now ubiquitous Helvetica. Some of the stories are more oblique: Perpetua is used for ‘P’ and ‘perpetuates’ itself in a mobius strip of the letterform.

For each letter we carried out extensive research, made drawings, built maquettes and did simple 3D visuals on our machines, before handing the ideas over to Ravensbourne’s team. There was a period of ‘virtual proofing’ where we examined the ideas as rendered files, and when all parties were happy, we began the printing (which for some letters took as long as eight hours). Some of the ideas worked straight away, some needed refining. Some fell apart, some were perfect, but after about six months solid work the ‘alphabet’ was ready for the photography you see in this edition of Monograph.

johnson banks

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