Academic journal article Visible Language

Metro Letters A Typeface for the Twin Cities

Academic journal article Visible Language

Metro Letters A Typeface for the Twin Cities

Article excerpt

Metro Letters A typeface for the Twin Cities Deborah Littlejohn. editor Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Design Institute Dialog Book, 2003 ISBN 0-9729696-1-6 160 pages, illustrated, softbound, $29.95

Can a typeface become an integral part of a city's urban culture and identity? This is the question running throughout this book. Begun as a research experiment at the University of Minnesota's ' Design Institute, a short list of type designers were invited to participate in a competition to design a typeface for Minneapolis & St. Paul, the 'twins' in the title. The six competitors were: Peter Bilak, The Hague; Erik van Blokland and Just van Rossum, LettError, The Hague & Haarlem; Gilles Gavillet and David Rust, Optimo, Geneva & Lausanne; Sibylle Hagmann, Kontour, Houston; Conor Mangat, Inflection, Kentfield, California; and Eric Olson, Process Type Foundary, Minneapolis & St. Paul.

Competitions are a not well-explored form of investigation in communication design in general and this one is in the best tradition of architectural competitions. Of the six proposals, the winner was Erik van Blokland and Just van Rossum of LettError in the Netherlands. Their rendition of "Twin" was selected in part due to its mutable and adaptive possibilities that are expected to become a family of ten alphabets. The font arrived with its "Panchromatic Hybrid Style Alternator," a sophisticated randomizing software program. "...Twin proposes that identity need not mean identical - that we can share common 'family' characteristics, display an underlying relatedness, while nevertheless maintaining our individual uniqueness and distinctive attributes. …

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