In 2014, RMIT Master of Commmunication Design staff members Stuart Geddes and Brad Haylock developed the visual identity and collateral for the Melbourne showing, at RMIT Design Hub, of the touring exhibition 'The Future is Here', created by the Design Museum, London.
This project addresses the under-investigated area of the influence of contemporary digital and manufacturing technologies in conventions of lettering and typography. Since Gutenberg’s invention of movable type in the 15th Century, the form of the visible word has been characterised by an emphasis on the outline of letter shapes and the disappearance of the inconsistencies of handwriting. This began to be questioned in the late-20th Century through such projects as Licko’s ‘Lo-Res’ type families (1985) and Letterror’s ‘Beowolf’ typeface (1989), and more recently by Dexter Sinister’s ‘Meta-the-difference-between-the-two-font’ (2010). But, as Ludovico (2012) has noted, much remains to be known about the impact of the post-digital age on design and publishing.
This project comprises the visual identity, signage and catalogue for the exhibition ‘The Future is Here’ at RMIT Design Hub. As a starting point, we asked: how might contemporary technologies challenge historical conventions in typography? This question is addressed by combining robotic manufacturing and the OpenType font format in unorthodox ways. The project synthesised OpenType technology with Noordzij’s (2005) concept of the ‘heartline’, with reference to key precedents including Robotlab’s ’bios [bible]’ (2008) and Rappo’s ‘Typeface as Program’ (2010). A commissioned digital font (developed by Dan Milne), with hundreds of randomised idiosyncrasies and a skeletal construction, mimicked the inconsistencies of handwriting and enabled the use of robots and three-axis routers as writing tools. Further, the cover of the digitally-printed catalogue reproduces the biomimetic growth of Studio Roland Snook’s furniture for the exhibition, so no two of the 4000 copies are alike.
Images © Stuart Geddes and Brad Haylock