Our latest round up of new and noteworthy type designs, publications and exhibitions includes a look at McDonald Gill’s lettering for military headstones, a custom typeface for the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and a new book from Unit Editions exploring type and image…
An idiosyncratic A to Z
First up, though, is Lucienne Roberts’ elongated alphabet for a new exhibition at The Wellcome Collection. The Idiosyncratic A to Z of the Human Condition presents bizarre and unusual objects from the museum’s collection, each corresponding with a letter of the alphabet to present an A to Z of human experience. Items on display include some tattoed human skin for ‘S’, Scott’s Antarctic medicine chest for ‘J’ (representing journeys) and a video of the birth of the first test tube baby for ‘B’.
Lucienne Roberts+ designed the graphics for the show, which include a series of condensed letterforms painted along the two longest walls in the gallery. Letters are designed to resemble the human form, with one set painted in black and another in a palette based on eye colours.
The letters are designed to give the eclectic display a sense of visual coherence, says Roberts. “It was clear that the graphics had to play a pivotal role in helping visitors understand the structure of the show…[the letters] playfully reference the incongruity of the human form, inviting a second glance as their double meaning becomes apparent,” she explains.
“The strongly coloured letters, alongside the matching colours of the object labels texts, act as a coding system with the nearby painted plinths. The large black letters opposite, alongside the corresponding black and white instructional labels and display mechanisms made out of unfinished ply, make for an obvious contrast and introduce visitors to the participatory wall [which visitors can interact with and use to post sketches]” she adds.
The Finnish Cultural Institute’s new look
Helsinki design studio Tsto recently designed a new visual identity for New York’s Finnish Cultural Institute, which features a custom typeface designed by Berlin foundry Shick Toikka. Tsto says the new identity is based on the idea of movement and exchange rather than traditional notions of Finnishness. Toikka has created both regular and hairline versions, which are used on the Institute’s new logo, website and communications – you can read more about the thinking behind the identity on FCINY’s website.
Dalton Maag’s seventies style typeface, Blenny, is described by the foundry as “fabulously curvaceous” and “a true individual.” Created by Spike Spondike, it has a strong retro feel, which the designer says was inspired by visits to St Leonards beach in Sussex, as well as lettering on old electronics equipment and gin bottles. The typeface is available in both Thai and Latin scripts and comes in one weight – see daltonmaag.com for details.
Outline sans serif stencil typeface Quanten is the latest release from Gestalten, and was created by typographer and graphic designer Martin Aleith. The font comes in a single weight with 650 character sets, including a series of miscellaneous symbols, and you can download it at fonts.gestalten.com
Marr Sans is described by designers Paul Barnes and Dave Foster as “an eccentric British uncle to Morris Fuller Benton’s Franklin and News Gothics.” Available through Commercial Type, it’s based on a nineteenth century sample found among work by Edinburgh foundry James Marr & Co, which Barnes and Foster have extended into a seven weight family.
Type plus image
Unit Editions latest release, Type Plus (top and below) explores how a range of designers are combining type and images to create “turbo charged” graphics. Designed by Spin and edited by Tony Brook and Adrian Shaughnessy, the book includes interviews with Barcelona studio Two Points, Non-Format and Erik Brand and work from Paula Scher, Kevin Chao and design studio Hoax. It costs £45 and those who pre-order will receive a limited edition poster pictured below – details here.
The Big Letter Hunt
Graphic designer Amandine Alessandra and architect Rute Nieto’s charming riso printed picture book, The Big Letter Hunt offers a visual tour of East London architecture and the hidden letterforms found in buildings around the City, Barbican, Mile End, Hackney and Haggerstone, including Dennis Lasdun’s Keeling House, an iconic 16-storey tower block in Bethnal Green, as well as gasworks, primary schools and a library. It’s published by Tower Block Books and priced at £14.
The Typographic Universe
Steven Heller and Gail Anderson’s new book, The Typographic Universe: Letterforms Found in Nature, the Built World, and Human Imagination documents type created using an unusual array of natural materials – from skin to fingernails and flowers – as well as lettering in unexpected places and everyday objects. The book also includes a look at ghost type spotted around the US, some inventive type-based furniture and alphabets contructed from legs, shoestrings and spaghetti. (Thames & Hudon, £24.95)
Barbara Kruger at Modern Art Oxford
Barbara Kruger’s latest solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford features work from throughout the visual artist and designer’s 40-year career. The most striking aspect of the show (open until August 31) is a large scale typographic installation covering the walls and floor of Modern Art’s Upper Gallery, which features slogans and phrases relating to capitalism, consumerism and religion in her trademark bold, graphic style. Other items on show include moving image work and some of Kruger’s most iconic collages. For visitor info, see moderartoxford.org.uk
McDonald Gill: Maps to Memorials
Suffolk’s Lettering & Commemorative Arts Trust is paying homage to graphic designer and typographer McDonald Gill this summer in a new exhibition Maps to Memorials: Discovering the Work of McDonald Gill. The show opens on August 15 until November 12 and follows a major retrospective of Gill’s work in London earlier this year, which you can read our feature on here.
As well as book jackets, architectural drawings and pictorial maps created for the London Underground, the show will feature sketches and examples of hand drawn lettering created by Gill for the white military headstones of soldiers who died during World War One. Commissioned by the Imperial War Graves Commission, Gill designed both the alphabet and regimental badges which have been used on every military headstone and memorial since 1918. See letteringartstrust.org.uk for details.
The winner’s of this year’s Type Director’s Club awards were announced on July 16 – you can see our article on the judge’s person favourites from this year’s entries here. Selected work is on display at New York’s Cooper Union Gallery until August 7 and includes some beautifully crafted designs, from Jessica Hische’s Drop Caps series for Penguin to Helen Yentu’s 3D printed book cover and Hajime Tsushima’s posters for the Japan Graphic Designers Association Hiroshima. TDC is also hosting a free exhibition during TypeCon in Washington DC until August 3, which is open to the public as well as delegates. See tdc.org for opening hours.