Singapore-based graphic design studio Currency specialises in designing publications and branding for exhibitions, utilising typography and layout to the maximum. One particular project by the studio, stopped us while scrolling through its website, a publication titled Good Oh’ Holland Village.
The publication, possibly the most stylish zine we’ve seen, is for Oh! Open House, “a non profit that aims to redefine the perceptions of spaces in Singapore through art,” Currency tells It’s Nice That. Its exhibition, Good Oh’ Holland Village was a “historical and artistic site specific project” based on Holland Village, “a mature estate in Singapore known for its eclectic and bohemian charm,” says Currency. “Amidst major urban redevelopments, the heritage of the enclave persists, most predominately the Holland Road Shopping Centre built in the 1970s.” Within the shopping centre, “hand-stencilled variations of typefaces such as Jackson and Zipper” remain as the signage on old shops which “still sold products that catered to a Western expatriate clientele, a community with roots that came from British Military Settlements in Singapore as early as the 1930s”.
All of this historical context and culture informed Currency’s design for the publication settling on a typographically-led zine, due to its “copy-driven approach,” explains the studio. “The project was a relevant opportunity to capture time through typography found on the disappearing yet distinctive style of old shop fronts. Many fonts and colours between the four booklets were used, but they were carefully coordinated to come together as a spectrum of its eras and inhabitants.”
The result is a small booklet divided into four, each covering a different sector of the neighbourhood all “kept snug in a faux-leather maroon sleeve with a gold stamp — like a travel passport”. In order to use typography as close to the signage lettering as possible, the designers even used an old Letraset typeface reference book, “that once belonged to a signage maker’s shop”.
Each of the composing elements of the book are uniquely inspired and combined flawlessly. For instance, “the warm colour scheme between the booklets reflected the changing coats of paint through the course of Holland Road Shopping Centre since it was built in the early 1970s to today, from greys and dark reds to the current bright yellow and orange exterior”. Even the editorial design of the booklet has rounded edges, emulating “old photographs and details found on shop fronts and architecture in the neighbourhood, to decoratively frame its content,” says Currency. Finally to top it all off, each of the illustrations and logos featured are “consistent with the modern approach to the project’s design, to evoke a sense of familiarity and the essence of time reflecting the heritage of Singapore’s oldest bohemian enclave.”
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