Arkitypo is a collaborative research project between Ravensbourne and design studio johnson banks that aims to push the limits of rapid prototyping technology in the creation of a 3D alphabet
Ravensbourne asked johnson banks to come up with an idea to utilise the newly-acquired rapid prototyping machines at the college. Johnson banks’ suggestion was to create a 3D alphabet in which each letter expressed an idea relating to a typeface whose name started with that letter. For example, the F, above, is from Fraktur, a typeface that will forever be associated with Germany. The 3D letterform is extruded from the shape of Germany on a map, which can be seen on the reverse.
The B starts as a Baskerville B which then morphs into the same letter in Bodoni – a reference to the fact that Bodoni was derived from Baskerville.
“For each letter we carried out extensive research, made drawings, built maquettes and did simple 3D visuals on our machines,” say johnson banks. “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.” Some of the letters took up to 90 hours to ‘print’.
The R is set in Retina, a typeface designed to deal with ‘ink-fill’ at tiny sizes: “We reversed the process and drilled an ‘R’ out of huge, oversized ink bubbles,” say johnson banks.
“This slightly mind-boggling design takes intersecting ‘Z’s from Zig-Zag to create a 3D puzzle”
Some of the letterforms are on show at the London HQ of Arup (8 Fitzroy Street W1).
The show opened to coincide with the latest of Arup’s Penguin Pool events in which they ask various designers to speak on a theme – last night’s being data visualisation. The Arkitypo project is on display until February 8.
The entire project is documented in the February edition of Monograph – the A5 publication that all CR subscribers (and only CR subscribers) receive free with each issue of Creative Review. If you’d like to subscribe, all the details you need are here.
There is more about the project on the johnson banks website here
Design: johnson banks
3D imaging and prototyping: Jon Fidler
Photography: Drew Morgan
Project client: Jill Hogan
Project advisor: Ben Caspersz
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