Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments Posted 01.27.10 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Alexandra Lange

Write What You Know


My handwriting should be a font. That’s what everyone has been saying since I was about 12, and while I agree it is true, it never seems like a compliment to me. What good is handwriting nowadays? To have nice handwriting seems sort of like a secretarial skill. My mother, my grandmother and one of my aunts also have good handwriting, and there’s a certain familial evolution from Palmer copperplate to more modern printing. The fourth grade year I spent learning cursive (another bit of dead curriculum) was hell. But we all know how to write a thank-you note.

Because/despite this, I love graphic design that uses handwriting. When I did research on Paul Rand, I was always attracted to his bits of happy, open, handwritten text. I have no idea if it was his hand, but it made him seem much more accessible. The greatness of his UPS logo is partly due to the homemade jauntiness of the package bow. Ditto for the Alvin Lustig covers of earlier vintage. Handwriting seems to have gone out of style (is it the infinite fonts), except for the work of designers who are fans of past glories or the effect of tears on ink.

Which is why I was so pleased to see the cover for David Barringer’s There’s Nothing Funny About Design (by Felix Sockwell). And I was hoping Barringer had written in the book about choosing the cover for his book, since he writes about other book covers, and the validity of written explanations for design work. No such luck. I have to assume handwriting was chosen for some of the same reasons Rand picked it in 1959. Handwriting seems both exotic and casual amidst a sea of proper type. The little face in the lower left of Barringer’s could well have come from a 1950s philosophy paperback. The whole is amusing without being expressly funny. It is for the text to make you laugh.

Share This Story

RELATED POSTS


The Proper Art of Writing in 1655


Calcutta: Bookland


Calcutta: Bookland


How to Cover an Impossible Book


Kicked A Building Lately?



LOG IN TO POST A COMMENT
Don't have an account? Create an account. Forgot your password? Click here.

Email


Password




|
Share This Story



Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.
More >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY Alexandra Lange

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Design Research
Chronicle Books, 2010

More books by contributors >>