Decoding Design

Arkitypo: A beautiful history of typography presented in 3D

Posting in Design

In this 3D alphabet, each carefully crafted letter tells the history of its own alphabet.

London-based identity and branding company Johnson Banks often works with printing and 3D experiments. Their latest project is called Arkitypo, a 3D alphabet that recounts the history of typography as we know it.

The experiment came about when Ravensbourne, a client of Johnson Banks to develop a research project that would test and showcase the 3D and prototyping skills and technology at their site in Greenwich.

The idea was to do something typographic-- to develop a "3D alphabet of alphabets."

Each letter was researched extensively, and after a period of designing, each idea was approved and printed-- some letters taking as long as eight hours. The hard work was worth it, however, because the resulting prints are simply beautiful.

Each letter is unique, and each interprets its own alphabet. For example, the letter "A" represents Aksidenz Grotesk, a forerunner of the popular font Helvetica, part of a family of early sans-serifs called grotesques.  "For this design a condensed weight is 'fractalized,' turning a grotesque into a thing of beauty."

The "B" is an uppercase Bodoni "B" that spirals out of the  form of a Baskerville "B," depicting visually the story of Giambattista Bodoni modelling his font after that of John Baskerville.

And so on. Each letter has a different typeface, and brings with it an interesting history. The whole alphabet is available for viewing on Johnson Bank's website, as well as in this month's issue of Creative Review.

[Core 77]
Images: Johnson Banks

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Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure