04 Jan 2017   webgap

A Worldwide Scavenger Hunt For Type Nerds

It’s hard to escape Futura type. Especially in Europe, it’s everywhere you look. Its popularity is due, in part, to the fact that it was the first geometric gothic typeface, as well as the first sans serif typeface to be cast and produced in all weights, grades and fonts. This seems to have ensured its wide appeal, as it can be seen everywhere from corporate logos to movie posters.

We all have types that we love or loathe but Futura seems to inspire particular loyalty. So much so that German graphic designers have created an online space to “hype the type”. This comes in the form of a website where people can post images of examples of Futura type that they’ve found. You can check it on the Futura website.

The prevalence of Futura type inspired the name of the site: Futura type-trap. Examples have flooded in from type nerds all over the world. So far, South Africa is sadly under-represented but if you know your serif from your sans-serif, now’s the time to get looking and start snapping.

Futura was inspired by the rational geometric patterns of the Bauhaus movement. Originally created in 1927, it has exhibited remarkable staying power. Historically, this was also the year of the first solo transatlantic flight, talking movie and when two staples of modern domesticity were invented: colour TV and the pop-up toaster.
The Futura type-trap project aims to honour the legacy of Paul Renner, the designer of the typeface and to highlight the continued relevance and usefulness of his type in today’s world.

As with many crowdsourced projects, there’s a competitive element to this scavenger hunt. The website’s ‘top spots’ feature showcases outstanding examples of Futura usage, while cities are ranked by the number of examples submitted. Unsurprisingly, Germany leads the way.

The website’s approach is simple. Type nerds are encouraged to find examples of Futura, photograph them and then upload them to the site. Location data from the smartphone is used to plot the images on the type-trap map. Billed unashamedly – but almost certainly accurately – as the biggest global hunt for the Futura typeface, this project is heaven for type nerds but quite possibly incomprehensible to anyone else.

Despite South Africa being a design-obsessed nation where words – and how they’re written – are of great significance when telling our stories, it seems this hobby has yet to catch on. In fact, not one single example of Futura typeface has been uploaded from anywhere in Africa.

We’re just days away from the 90th anniversary of the Futura typeface. This is a font that deserves better, so we’re calling on all type nerds and graphic designers alike to get out there and put South Africa on the map. Futura was the future once; don’t let it now become a thing of the past.

11 Jan 2017   webgap

The Harvard Library That Protects the World’s Rarest Colours

Harvard University is renowned for its library collections but one in particular, is more colourful than most. Compared to mouldy stacks of monochrome printed textbooks, the Forbes Pigment Collection gives the impression that its thousands of small glass jars are filled with ground-up rainbows of the rarest colours.The collection began with the twentieth-century globetrotting of Edward Forbes, who wanted to catalogue the pigments used in classical Italian paintings and tell cunning fakes from genuine masterpieces.Considering that today, colour is almost entirely digitised, whether it be findin ...

18 Jan 2017   webgap

Architecture that’s built to heal

A great deal of architectural talent and energy goes into designing iconic, sculptural buildings, which can add to the aesthetic identity of a place. Unfortunately, these designs are often far removed from most people’s daily life and the issues which concern them – such as their health.Many of the structures designed for health purposes, especially in developing countries are achieving the exact opposite. Patients visiting badly-designed hospitals have been said to return home with new, more virulent infections – or not at all. Healing either delayed, or incomplete – all due, in part, ...

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