These seem to be going around the blogosphere, but in case you've missed them they belong very firmly in the 'I wish I'd done that' category of design: typographic trees created by why not associates in collaboration with Gordon Young for the new Crawley Library, which will be opening in January 2009. And there's even a flickr set.
Talking of libraries, I have to go off and do some art direction for a museums, libraries and archives report. I'll try and bring you back something nice (if I don't get arrested for taking photographs).
After my dressing down by the DESIGNA on Sunday, you'll be pleased to know that I managed to get in and out of the hospital yesterday without the SWAT team being deployed. Phew. I didn't dare take another photograph, though.
Which is a shame, because when you're escorting somebody to hospital, there's always lots of hanging around waiting for small flurries of activity at two-hourly intervals. And so lots of opportunity to take in exactly what's going on behind the scenes. Which is the art of making seemingly important notices that in fact tell you very little.
The walls are plastered with them: A4 laminated notices, mostly printed on light green card. And they all seem to begin with the words 'be aware'. I kid you not, but yesterday I spent 30 minutes sat opposite a notice that said 'BE AWARE THAT THE SEATS BELOW ARE NOT ATTACHED TO THE FLOOR'. Hmm? What's that? An invitation to pick up the seats and walk out with them?
And then comes the two hour wait beside the bedside. There's only one other patient on the ward and a team of eight doctors and nurses huddled behind computers. Oh, so that's what they do when they're not treating patients: they're inventing notices.
I'm not here to bore you with the details, but I've had to make several trips to hospital over the weekend. And that's where I met the DESIGNA (actually, he's the ticket machine that controls the barrier that lets you out of the car park). Perhaps his name is Dave, as in davethedesigna.
If ever you want to find an example of bad design, just head for your local hospital (well, if you're in the UK that is: I imagine the Swiss do things slightly differently).
So let me tell you about my friend the DESIGNA. Remember, you can't get out of this car park unless you've paid the parking fee and got the ticket with the magnetic strip that you then have to feed into the DESIGNA while you're sat behind the wheel of your car with your seat belt on (remember, you're in a hospital, so safety's at the forefront of your mind). That's always difficult enough, isn't it? Getting your car aligned so that you can feed the ticket into the machine.
But hospitals (or at least this one) like to make it just that much more difficult. Because they've decided that the exit lane should be at an exact right angle to the DESIGNA. Which means that you have to make a 90-degree turn within the length of your car. Not easy at the best of times; least of all when you've just paid a visit to the hospital and are probably under stress.
So it comes as no surprise that many people manage to hit poor DESIGNA (and his mate on the right) with their cars, as they struggle to execute that tight turn. Which is why they have to be protected by that mini crash barrier: set, quite helpfully, at 12 inches above the ground. Perfectly placed, that is, so that you can't see it from behind the wheel of your car.
Things are bad enough for DESIGNA himself. But his poor mate on the right comes off even worse: presumably because you have to navigate yourself around the car already struggling to feed their ticket into DESIGNA 1. So the chances of getting out without hitting the machine as well as the barrier would seem to pretty slim, based upon the evidence.
Now you'd think that would be an innocent enough observation to make, wouldn't you. I don't have a grievance; I haven't hit DESIGNA or his crash barrier (hey, I've passed my advanced driving test, don't you know). I'm just pondering why somebody would plan out a car park without employing enough common sense to realise that things would be so much easier if the machines were approached head on. It's hardly rocket science, is it? But oh no, my friends, it seems that such thoughts are not allowed.
Just as I'm getting back into my car after taking these pictures, a disembodied voice booms from DESIGNA: "Did you just take a photograph of that machine?". "Yes" I replied, truthfully. "You can't do that, it's not allowed, you'll have to drive round to security immediately". "I didn't know I was breaking the law" I said. "Well you are" said DESIGNA, "it's against relugations [sic] mate. We've got your registration."
Well, I didn't drive to security and now I'm expecting a knock at the door at any minute.
I may, or may not, be back - it all depends upon the DESIGNA.
I was noodling around the internet (as you do) - in fact, I think I was looking for a suitable image to illustrate Univers in that last post. And I came across the work of Anton Stankowski (who, as you can see, often used Univers).
If I had to choose just one font (instead of the 52) that I could use instead of Helvetica, then I think that would really have to be Univers. I love it. And I love it because it's so damn difficult to use. In my view, it's the one font that sorts the men from the boys.
It's arguably one of the greatest typographic achievements of the second half of
the 20th century. The family has the advantage of having a variety of
weights and styles, which, even when combined, give an impression of
steadiness and homogeneity. In 1954
the French type foundry Deberny & Peignot wanted to add a linear
sans serif type in several weights to the range of the Lumitype fonts.
Adrian Frutiger, the foundry's art director, suggested refraining from
adapting an existing alphabet. He wanted to instead make a new font
that would, above all, be suitable for the typesetting of longer texts
- quite an exciting challenge for a sans-serif font at that time.
Starting with his old sketches from his student days at the School for
the Applied Arts in Zurich, he created the Univers type family. In
1957, the family was released by Deberny & Piegnot, and afterwards,
it was produced by Linotype. The Deberny & Peignot type library was
acquired in 1972 by Haas, and the Haas'sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas Type
Foundry) was folded into the D. Stempel AG/Linotype collection in
1985/1989. In 1997, Frutiger and the design staff at
Linotype completed a large joint project of completely re-designing and
updating the Univers family.
And now to a new discovery (for me at least) - which is the way of this little series: it makes me go out and hunt things down when I get to particular letters and nothing obvious springs to mind.
It's Utopia. It was designed by Robert Slimbach for Adobe in 1992, and was intended
to solve a number of typographic problems related to office
correspondence. This demanded versatility, so Slimbach created a font
family with cuts for text, for titles, extra bold for headlines, small
caps, all caps with numerals, old face numerals, fractions, ligatures
and scientific markings.
So I'm going to wrap up this week with just a couple more covers - otherwise this blog is going to turn into something that it's not intended to be (whatever that is). And I felt that I had to escape from the penguins. But it's not been easy. I've had to search high and low through my bookshelves to find anything that I was prepared to post up here.
This is quite charming, isn't it? Complete with its tea cup stain. But it comes from another age - 1960 to be exact (that was before sexual intercourse began, according to Philip Larkin). Because we had loftier ideals then: educating Johnny foreigner (and no, not that one). Here's what it says in the introduction:
"English books are written for the English, who have spoken English since they began to speak, and have read English since they began to read. They are not written for the foreigner.
In every school in the world in which foreigners are learning English, the teacher is crying out for books that will bring to the foreigner who is learning English some of the pleasure that the English classics bring to the English boy and girl."
Still, never mind, the summer of love would be coming along soon. And speaking of love, here's another cover from 1960:
With a wrapper designed by Adrian Bailey, it's "the story of a boy's physical infatuation with a girl whom he does not love".
And thus an empire was lost (if my father was to be believed).
Here's the little gem that I told you about yesterday: a Penguin Poets cover. It's so lovely that I was inspired to photograph it in the AceJet 170 style. But, sadly, my diddy digital camera wasn't up to the job.
So here it is full frontal, instead:
This one was published in 1958, so the cover was probably designed by Stephen Russ, although it's not attributed in the book itself. And here's the equally lovely back cover:
But I'm only scratching the surface here: if you really want to know all about The Penguin Poets series of covers, you need to head on over to Richard's collection. And you can find out more about Stephen Russ from Graham Day.