Arkitypo, part one


We’re just starting an unusual project where we’re creating an alphabet of three dimensional letters which explores and delves into 26 different alphabets. Our working title for this project is Arkitypo.

It came about during conversations with a current client, Ravensbourne, who have some absolutely state-of-the-art 3d prototyping machinery and skills (and even have an MSc course dedicated to it).

In discussions we agreed that whilst we’d all begun to see smart examples of 3d prototyping on the web, it all seemed to be a bit product focussed. We all wanted to try to do something that really pushed the technology to its limits.

So the task we’ve set ourselves over the next few months is to do a 3D A-to-Z of type, with johnson banks in charge of starting the 26 individual ideas and the canny team of uber-techies at Ravensbourne in charge of 3d imaging and protoyping.

We’re going to show examples and work in progress on this blog and at the end we’re hoping to produce a definitive set of photographs, posters (perhaps with luck an exhibition of the actual objects).

Here’s a few examples of some of the work so far: we took a long hard look at the famous typeface Avant Garde, because of its famous slanted ‘A’s, thinking it would ‘spin’ nicely.



But we’ve got more distracted by the thought of taking a famous ‘Grotesk’ (in this case, Akzidenz) and making it anything but grotesque via fractal technology (see visuals below and the first real prototype).




For ‘B’ we’ve been experimenting with different views of Baskerville (see below re-imagined in wave-like sections)…


…and bizarre extrusions of Bodoni.


Currently we prefer another idea for ‘B’ which explores the way typefaces such as Bembo and Baskerville led to Bodoni. By spinning one font into another we can create something we’re much happier with.



The image at the top of this post shows the first actual 3d print of this idea. (And yes, we may well be taking orders for paper weights and birthday initials by the end of this process)

‘C’ is proving a little problematic (our attempts to emulate Anish Kapoor with Cooper Black were a bit disappointing to be honest) so we’re trying to see what we can do with typewriter keys for Courier.


We thought Dot Matrix would be good food for 3d thought (see scribbles and first visuals below).



Anyway, you get the idea. More to come, as we get bits that are showable.


If you’re interested in seeing more, take a visit to the department’s blog – it has lots of links out to other examples.

If you have an overwhelming desire to see your favourite typeface enshrined in 3d, let us know which one (and why) on twitter @johnsonbanks and we’ll have a think. Remember, it has to be the initial letter of the font (so there’s no point in asking for a Baskerville ‘Q’, however lovely that may be) and there has to be a reason. 

Thought for the week is now taking an August break. Back at the end of the month.