I recently gave a workshop called TypeTour, consisted of a tour of the Condesa neighborhood in Mexico City. The idea was that – on the occasion of the centenary of the Bauhaus school – we would find its influence on typography, especially on the Amsterdam circuit, reminiscent of what was once a racecourse and the heart of this neighborhood that transits between Bauhaus and Art Deco.
You may be interested: DesignLifer. Criticism of the redesign of …
As one discovers geometric style typography, which sometimes becomes Future and others in Broadway or Avant Garde, jump those houses and buildings that were renovated and whose modernist influence demonstrates the intention – and sensitivity – that the architect had in preserving or modernizing the typography, especially to demonstrate the number that identifies it, in such a way that one can discover some three and eight at Eurostile and even Helvetica, if not, as part of the creative license, it lets itself be carried out with its own design, keeping some period features.
This same exercise is extremely useful to repeat in any part of a city, where a single street is a reason for discovering styles, forms and reveals the personality of the person who places the number of his house or the name of the business.
But not only in the typography placed on buildings, in the same way one can find everything by analyzing the typography as spectacular, bus advertisements and signs are found on the street. From this it is possible to understand part of the culture of a community, a city and even an entire country.
You may be interested: 10 horror cases for any designer.
In cities with a long typographic tradition such as Germany or the Netherlands, it is very common to come across compound signs in Gothic typography, long unpronounceable words for an illiterate Latin of Saxon languages. In Italy the common is the Trajan sources proudly used as part of an ancient culture. In Mexico, the revolutionary label, with smaller vowels and mounted on a tilde, is read as its own.
As one moves away from cliches, selections emerge from sources that, even inadvertently, rewrite a style. Thus we can find strong, robust, skateless and modern typefaces such as Apex, Gotham or Klavika, with a very characteristic personality of our times, so that they can understand each other not only in a spectacular street, but on the phone, on the website or on a bus.
Sometimes they are no longer recognizable on purpose. Many of them are à la carte or designed especially for a company, others somewhat deformed in order to make clear the personality of the product or the campaign. In the end, typography molds and lets itself be molded to the rhythm of change, of times, of fashions.
What does the Helvetica font tell you when you read it on a business card, lonely and endorsing all the blank space against a saturated ad, in white on a photograph, where it leaves the limelight and acquires its essence that is simply to be read without prejudice, while the image takes the palms?
As designers, how do we use typography and how aware are we of the message we transmit just by selecting it? We will write about it in the next installment.