It’s not an easy task designing a print solution to a very digital, ephemeral project; but London-based agency Jullia proves it can be done, and done very bloody well. Julia has created the catalogue for the Whitechapel Gallery’s superb Electronic Superhighway exhibition, taking its central theme of the online and digital worlds and seemingly effortlessly translating it into a distinctly analogue format.
The designs are based around the Metafont typeface, created on the Metaflop site (which we covered here) from an algorithm-based language. “It is native to computers and a rare example in the history of typography of a system that does not stem from an analogue, calligraphic origin,” Julia explains.
“By being the result of mathematical equations where different variables can be input (thickness, slant angle, width, height, corner radius, etc.) There’s no absolute form, but a myriad of possible outputs. We represent this by mixing different variations into a same text block.”
The book’s layout was designed to reference the way code is written by programmers, with lines indented by increasing amounts. “This is a popular way to create hierarchy, nesting information into different levels,” says Julia. “The grey paper and blue typography are a nod to the standard formatting of early html pages, where these colours would display as default in case another style was not specified.”
The images of works form the show are designed to work alongside a timeline that delineates events that had an impact on the pieces at the time of their creation, making a nice nod to the show’s unusual presentation in reverse chronology. It’s a wonderful example of distilling often complex ideas into a beautiful piece of design work, and importantly, one that’s easy to read as well as being easy on the eye. The cover manages to refer to the complexities of the digital world with its rainbow-like, refracted appearance; and also playful, taking on a different look depending on the light.
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