The birth of a custom typeface

Hugo d'Alte
Leroy Arklm Thoughts Alt

As a designer who grew up professionally referencing modernist and post-modernist works, I am a true believer in the unity of the arts: that all art forms, especially the graphic ones, share a common theoretical base and exist in the same visual environment. As the revered art director Paul Rand, known for his corporate logo designs, said, everything is graphic if you can see it: painting is graphic, dance is graphic, architecture is graphic, and, furthermore, everything is design, and thus design is everything. The creative process is similar in different design areas — including architecture, which I’d argue is also design — that work with solving functional problems, but they happen on different scales. 

For example, in type design, as in architecture, the negative space around shapes matters as much as the shapes themselves, as it influences the way in which people read the whole. A building as a "machine for living”, like Corbusier saw it, can be broken down to a lot of smaller pieces that only make complete sense when looking at the bigger picture. The same is true for a typeface: a designer can spend hours working on a single letter, but that letter alone is perhaps useless. It has to work in harmony with the complete character set. Although they differ in their expression, architecture and design are interdependent: an architectural public space without the assistance of graphic design does not function as it should, since it needs, for example, signage and a plethora of written communication.

The visual identity for LM Architects is strongly based on its custom typeface. It carries their conceptual thinking—their aesthetic—side by side with images of their works, and when all other forms of representation come short. To design and produce a typeface that would become the graphic vehicle for the written communication—the new voice of LM Architects throughout their new visual identity—I needed to get familiar with what characterises their architectural style and what makes their formal language unique or characteristic. Following some research I was able to break down some elements that could be used to give character to letter shapes: curved lines abruptly broken by a straight corner, partly organic and partly rational and geometric, fluid and broken shapes in the same context. The final product is a harmonious character set that communicates how everything, including the architectural designs of LM Architects, is graphic.

Discover the brand identity case here.

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