For many design types, typography is a private obsession, indulged in behind closed doors away from the uncaring eyes of those who don’t even know (or maybe care) what kerning is. But from time to time typography escapes these confines and through large scale public installations it becomes a confrontational part of everybody’s daily lives. A new book by Anna Saccani called Letterscapes explores our relationship with these types of public lettering, looking at examples from the likes of Why Not Associates, Lawrence Weiner, Paula Scher and Joan Brossa. But it’s not just pretty pictures – although there are lots of these – the book looks at how and why these pieces have changed over the past few decades.
One theory comes from Leonardo Sonnoli, who writes in the introduction: “In recent years, cities have increasingly shifted the management of public spaces from public to private interests. This is one of several reasons behind the change in the role of words and letters in such spaces. The expansion of graphic design beyond the confines of the page has also made an important contribution to a change in approach; this was undoubtedly the result of artistic experimentation in the post-war period, using language as visual material and, above all, translating concepts into typography.”
Letterscapes published by Thames & Hudson, is out on March 4.