The words “typeface” and “character” are fitting terms to describe fonts. When listening to good designers talk about them, you would think they were gossiping about people. They talk about their emotional qualities, complain about what they perceive as their flaws, get blushingly specific about their physical beauty. For them, some typefaces are casual flings, good for a quickie when the mood strikes and the lighting is right; with others, they are in love and ready to commit for life. For many designers, a studying letterforms is more engaging than reading what the collected letters have to say.
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Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach, has founded another company – Public Bikes. To introduce consumers to his new venture, Forbes recruited 27 world-renowned designers and illustrators to create art posters around the concept of “public.” All of these posters are being gathered into a book called “Public Works,” sold as individual posters, and shown in exhibitions slated for San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.
Forbes, an avid biker, urban dweller and environmentalist, explains the impetus for his Public Works project was to bring greater attention to the critical issues of public space, access and livability of cities. “In recent decades, our cities have been evolving from manufacturing and industrial centers into cultural hubs,” Forbes says. “The 20th century movement that encouraged people to leave cities for the suburbs has now been reversed. For the first time in our history the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and this trend appears irreversible….People choose cities for what they offer: connections with people, ideas, stimulation, opportunity, creativity, and diversity. Our public spaces should facilitate these connections, not stifle them.… We believe that more of our urban streets and sidewalks should be reclaimed for walking and bicycling, and that our public spaces should be developed for better human interaction and conversation.”
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Editor’s note: Anybody who has been around Kit Hinrichs for long knows that he can’t resist beautifully designed books, especially if they are on design and typography. So, we asked him to tell us his favorite books from 2010 and why he liked them. We made him cull his favorites down to 9. Here’s what he had to say.
Here are my favorites. 1. George Lois, The Esquire Covers @MoMa. A look at some of the best magazine covers… EVER! 2. Mapping America: Exploring the Continent. A magical look at cartography from Lewis & Clark to the typographic textures of Paula Scher. 3. Alphabets: A Miscellany of Letters. An historical look at curious typographic forms from the origin of alphabets to x-rated typefaces.
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