The writing’s on the wall when it comes to interior design. It may be big and bold or small and understated, but typography and handwriting are two themes today’s designers love to play with. These powerful designs really are a force to be reckoned with – so read on…
These concepts may possibly be a tongue-in-cheek response to our times when words and their truth content are losing status and communications are becoming more impersonal. Lettering of all sorts, and especially handwriting, currently features prominently in interiors: perhaps because they bring back a more personal touch. Lots of creatives and design labels are harnessing word power to pep up their products. It’s a winning concept: whether the words are hard-hitting or softly spoken, on expressive vases or communicative coffee cups, there are designs to cater for all types of type. Faced with so much variety, we’re almost lost for words.
Many of these products are beguiling because their simple and unfussy elegance combines with an unmistakable message. Saying what is already clear adds a certain something. The linear look is further emphasised by straight lines of text. “Bold is beautiful” is the philosophy behind this trend! Strong text is where it’s at.
The Formart company is also keen to send out powerful messages – primarily in the must-have hand lettering look. Nathalie Csorvasi is responsible for all the designs from this creative Darmstadt-based company. She trained as a media designer and is au fait with the latest trends in lettering. “My first designs were for my own use, like my handwritten house rules,” she explains in our interview. “My friends loved them and in time I began writing these things for work.” Whereas hand lettering is about imitating existing computer fonts as precisely as possible, handwriting is based on an individual’s own writing style. Product designers are readily employing both at the moment, Natalie explains. The two techniques can be seen as separate art forms – Nathalie has taught herself both, working with a paintbrush and Indian ink. With handwriting in particular, the message comes across in the meaning of the word, and is reinforced through the look of the individual letters. Recently, many handwriting artists have emerged, each with their own distinctive style. The intricacies of their handwriting make their work truly unique.
The evergreen popularity of typography plus photography continues unabated. “In terms of posters and murals, there’s a bit less demand now for typography on its own. Most of our customers prefer a combination of photos and text. It seems increasingly important for the text to be meaningful,” Nathalie explains. Not only is she a typography expert, she also personally takes all the photos used in Formart designs.
Comics are well known for their big, punchy, expressive text. Onomatopoeic ‘sound words’ underline the action and create the right mood. Decor objects can do it too, by harnessing this comic style. They’re colourful and stand out enough to summon our inner superheroes. Whether it’s a mat, cushion or rucksack – wherever you look, there are comic-book products like those popularised in the past by Roy Lichtenstein. Ban Do has created a scarf which pairs colourful illustrations with a fitting slogan – ‘Do your thing!’ This sunny Los Angeles label is known for the chirpy text printed on its products. Alongside the strong colours, they combine to create a fun mood. And who says typography is limited to the alphabet? This clever silicon cake mould shows letters aren’t the only focus – numbers can also make a big impact. Plus, you can combine two of these moulds to bake a cake for any birthday.
Light up my life
Illuminated letters have long since left the outside of buildings in town to move in to our homes. You see them almost everywhere nowadays. These illuminated characters provide mood lighting and bring some of that Broadway theatrical sparkle into our own homes. When you see your own initials up in lights, you’ll feel like a real star.
Small words, big impact
There are two extremes to the typography trend: large, stand-out letters and small, delicate writing. The latter is ideal for a cosy setting within your own four walls. For example, this cup from Make International states quite clearly whose coffee this is, while also appealing to all you minimalists out there. Sometimes big words aren’t needed – and this doesn’t just apply to cups, but also to decorative items where small type has a refined and exclusive feel.
Light boxes with their interchangeable letters can be constantly redesigned and adorned every day with a fitting message or personal mantra. They’re ideal for anyone with something to say for themselves. Did you know these boxes were inspired by the old signs outside cinemas?
Klingspor museum: Text as art
If you’re a letter lover with an artistic bent, next time you’re in Frankfurt take a trip to the Klingspor Museum in neighbouring Offenbach. Housed in a neo-Baroque city mansion, this museum named after merchant and type foundry owner Karl Klingspor is well known for its exhibitions on the art of writing and typography. Its collections contain legacies from well-known typographers and graphic artists, including Rudolf Koch and Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman. Here you’ll gain a new understanding of writing as art.
ABC of beautiful objects
Our word processors contain countless fonts that can give text a quite unique effect. The same is true of the writing that provides a focus for interior design. The great scope and multiple design possibilities for typography mean that the writing’s on the wall, and the question remains: Which type(face) do you like?