Thursday, September 18, 2014

Furniture Typography

There is something inherently cool about typography inspired furniture, maybe because it has a greater visual impact when compared to other furniture pieces. Hip and trendy,  typography furniture and furnishings is becoming quite popular in the design realm.

Wouldn't you love to sit on comfortable furniture that tells you how you feel? Typography is used everywhere and what makes it cool is to actually recognize a typeface that triggers a want or need. A typeface that captures an audience because of the certain type family that was chosen at the time of creation. This is what makes it cool for me as a designer. The visual impact that typography furniture gives to me because of the 3D quality it has brings type in a new form and in a hip trendy way to release  a new passion for all designers to have in their home and make it really their own with a twist! Please sit in my chair that is shaped like a Y!

The YES Lounger by Tabisso

Modular Typographical Bookcase

AAKKOSET Bookshelf by Kayiwa

M Shaped Storage Shelf by Set 26

Typography Lounge Chair by LifeSpaceJourney

Typography Table by Marc Lauckhardt Alphabetizes 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Signs of Hope

When you see a homeless person on the street what's one of the first things you notice? They more than likely have some sort of handwritten sign on a damp and ripped piece of cardboard. Some people hurriedly shove their phones in front of their faces as they walk by and others divert their attention to any other object in their field of vision besides that person's sign.

These signs have become so familiar and universally used that they tend to blend in. I don't even really notice or give them a second thought anymore as to why or how they came about choosing to show their message in that way. These people usually don't speak and instead let the sign speak for them. The following 2 projects, although almost opposites, both use the concept of the homeless person sign to expand its impact and have it actually serve the purpose those who write them want them to.

The first is:


This is, as their website states, an Arrels Foundation Initiative which consists of taking the handwriting of the homeless and making them into fonts for sale. People and brands can then use these fonts in an effort to raise money for the 1,400 people supported by the Arrels Foundation.

As you can see, each typeface is expressive and unique to that individual who wrote it. No matter where they've been in life or what their struggles are, their handwriting is unique and beautiful. Their messages and needs might be similar in content, but the hand that writes each sign is unique.

The second is a tumblr page called:


This website takes the exact opposite approach but still has the common goal of helping out the homeless who's signs aren't always effective. It is run by artist Kenya Nakayama and Christopher Hope. They also want to make these people more than just another face holding a sign. They interview them as well as give them a fully redone traditional typographically beautiful sign. 

Although they make the signs fit into what is more eye catching and considered beautiful, they keep the messages exactly the same, and yet design changes them drastically. 

So what is actually a better method? Using a persons own personal handwriting to bring positive change or taking their message and presenting it in a more visually pleasing way? On one hand, homelessfonts uses that own persons talents to project their struggles and get them help from a larger more powerful audience while signs for the homeless does make their sign more beautiful, but ultimately ask the same people who walk by and ignore the ugly signs to reconsider the message simply because its more visually pleasing. Regardless, I think design lends itself to do so much good and this is just one aspect in which it does so. 


Helvetica is a widely used san-serif typeface created by Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann in 1957. Originally called Neue Haas Grotesk, its design was based on Schelter-Grotesk and Haas' Normal Grotesk. The design of Helvetica occurred during post war Europe. The designers set out to build a new typeface that could compete with the successful Akzidenz-Grotesk in the Swiss market while creating the sense of immense readability and clarity for signage and other text. In 1960 the name was finally changed to Helvetica in order to make the typeface more marketable internationally while the name comes from the Swiss goddess Helvetia.
The design of Helvetica occurred during post war Europe. Companies were looking for a change from the gaudy decorative motifs crowding corporate ads. When Helvetica was created a new age in the face of design was created. The sleek and sensible design of the typeface gave a modern, clean look The typeface started in only light and medium but once italic, bold and others joined the mix a whole new world of opportunity erupted. After over 50 years of Helvetica the typeface is still as strong as ever. In a sense it revolutionized typography to give it a modern feel to what it was. Helvetica is used in signs, advertisements, logos, copy and just about anything else typographically speaking. It is used in many popular logos worldwide including, Toyota, Jeep, Sears and many others.

The man in the video is seen using a letterpress to print the word Helvetica on the paper. Letterpress printing is a type of relief printing. A person would set the blocks of type, ink it, then press paper over it to transfer the ink. The first letterpress was created by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century and with minor industrialization the same invention was used until about the 19th century for books and other things. Although few letterpress printers are used today the art form still remains.

Neon Typography

When you think of neon, what pops in your head first?
Las Vegas? Times Square? Tokyo? Maybe something else.

Let's first start with what's inside a neon sign, what is it made out of.
Well, two most common are Neon for sure and Argon. Others include helium, xenon and krypton. Each of these chemicals/gases produces a different color. 

Neon lights are "cold cathode gas-discharge" lights. Which basically means an electric discharge is sent through a ionized gas/plasma (plasma -- like plasma TV's! They use the same type of science) and these electrons are emitted without having to be heated. 

"Neon" is used to refer to the general type of lamp, but it's only one of the gases used and it's actually pretty limited. When additional gases are added immediately after the tube is "purified". It's like a chain reaction; when the tube is ionized by electrification, mercury evaporates into mercury vapor, which fills the tube and produces the ultraviolet light mentioned before. This light excites whatever phosphor coating are chosen to be inside and produce different colors. 

It all started with the Geissler Tube invented in 1855. After the invention of this tube, scientists began... experimenting. They discovered that a gas under low pressure, plus electrical voltage, created a glow. 

Enter stage right, Mr. Georges Claude. Inventor of the First Neon Lamp circa 1902!!
Although he wasn't the first to discover "neon gas" (that was William Ramsey & M.W. Travers in 1898) he was the first to apply an electric discharge to a sealed tube of that gas.

But the neon sign biz owes it Jacques Fonseque, Claude's assistant who saw the business possibilities (signage) in such lighting.

The first sign in the US for Packard car dealership sold for $24,000 in 1923.

These signs are made using hollow tubes made of all types of glass materials. There's "soft" and "hard" glasses. For example, lead glass is "soft". The range of heat needed is between 1600 F - 2000 F depending on the glass being used. 

Fluorescent lighting is very similar but was developed 25 years after neon tube lights.

Which leads to this... Fluorescent tube coatings was a major innovation in 1926. When ultraviolet light is absorbed by fluorescent coating inside the tube, the phosphor glows with it's own color. Further research of phosphor opened the door to more colors!

The act of bending such glass tubes is a skilled craft! These signs have the ability to last for years if crafted correctly. 

There is a whole other business to tube bending! 

#1 concern: legibility. The lines produced are thicker than what you draw, so if signs are designed with the lines too close, the sign will be illegible at night (Common mistakes that sign makers run into when creating signs). Also, the problems of certain customers wanting relatively elaborate typefaces and some things do not look good in neon.

Theres ways people can achieve the look of "neon" texts using programs like Photoshop & After Effects but, of course, it's not the same as an actual, tangible sign. 

See some pros in these videos in the act of tube bending!

Stephen Conlon -

Hong Kong sign industry -

Other resources:

Pretty neat book: Magic of Neon by Michael Webb

Get your shiny library on!

The Art of Making Neon with Martin Suettinger

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kinetic Typography

Kinetic typography is an animation technique mixing motion and text to express ideas using video animation. The text is presented over time in a manner intended to convey or evoke a particular idea or emotion.The first feature film to extensively use kinetic typography was in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 film North by Northwest. Created by Saul Bass, the film's opening title sequence contained animated text, featuring credits that flew in from off screen and finally faded out into the film itself.
Kinetic typography is often produced using standard animation programs such as Adobe Flash, Adobe After Effects, and Apple Motion.

North by Northwest:

Fight Club by Adrian Moran:

Pulp Fiction by Christian Gjerde:

Kid President by Taylor English:

CGI Typography

Benoit Challard is a french creative image maker specialized in CGI design and art direction.
HIs work encompasses a large range of 3D field creation, design, and illustration.

Alan Murray is an award winning CGI 3D illustrator.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hand-Cut Paper Typography

While researching options and solutions for one of my projects, I came across images that really caught my attention. Cut paper is something we are all familiar with, but I never knew the possibility and the effect that it could have as an image, and more importantly a form of art itself. One of the artists that specializes in this particular style is Julene Harrison, who hand cuts everything with an xacto knife. We have it easy with our laser cutter, but she actually cuts out the individual shapes herself. One thing that she does that is different from the other artist that I will show you is that she incorporates the type into her imagery in a really playful way. You can just tell that she has a lot of fun doing this work, even though it may seem tedious. She has done work for Walmart, Nivea, the Wall Street Journal as well as the Washington Post. She also does personal commission work so anyone can have something made by her.

Another artist that deals with this medium is Annie Vought, who also creates hand-done pieces. Hers are more elaborate and complex. The type features no illustrations, and personally I don't think they need any since they are so large in scale. In an interview, she says that the lettering is hand-made because it adds more emotion and feeling to the pieces. The size of her work also plays a huge role (no pun intended) in the emotion and makes them almost intimidating. In the bottom image you can really feel this angry tone to it with the harsh scribbles and bold lettering submerged in the image. Though the material is paper-based, the images themselves are strong because the type connects to form a solid structure.

Julene Harrison

 Annie Vought

Work from her show, "You're A Bitch":

Again, delicately cut out white space from scribbles and hand-lettering.......

I encourage you to check out more of her work here: