“I don’t want to be the kind of designer who designs just posters,” says Italian graphic designer Gianluca Alla, now living in London. Nor does he want to be the kind of graphic designer “who just animates letters”, cheekily commenting on some of the throwaway forms of graphic design increasingly seen nowadays.
Gianluca’s work is centred on solid typography. Well designed, precise typography. He tells It’s Nice That, “Typography for me, is literally the A, B, C of visual communication. It’s strong. It’s expressive. It gives contrast.” He understands the semiotic language of type and how a few degrees of an angle can be the difference between a formal or casual meaning. “Selecting one font over another says a lot about the message that the designer wants to communicate,” he reiterates.
He also demonstrates this through his poster designs for concerts at Neubad Bistrò Lucerne. The letters on the posters are designed and curated “according to the kind of music the band plays”. For instance, in Horizon Liquide the typography reflects the “classical and electronic” timbre of the band through the “zig-zagging lines that break the elegance of the serifs”, says the designer. Whereas in another poster for the jazz band Les Reines Prochaines, letters dance to the haphazard rhythm of the jazz band, but in print. By contrast, for Ian Fischer’s poster, Gianluca adopts a Swiss style of graphic design. Utilising a Muller-Brockmann grid but making some idiosyncratic changes to the rigid structure, Gianluca illustrates how typography and graphic design can echo a musical arrangement with the right amount of attention to detail.
90 Numeri Statistici is a publication documenting 90 different kinds of data regarding the daily routine of Italians. Used as “a tool to spread social and economic issues” the book sees Gianluca’s designs bringing a bit of fun to the otherwise dense statistics. For each different data entry, Gianluca assigns a different enlarged number in a bold font, adding some panache to a book commissioned by the academic Italian Institute for Statistics. The numbers also acted as a wayfinding system during the Statistics festival in Treviso. (Yes, apparently that is a thing.)
And finally, with the animated type project Letterzip, Gianluca creates a series of typographic experiments that show “how graphic design and typography can offer a blunt but sweet answer at the same time.” Animating short answers into punchy type-based gifs, Gianluca tests the readability of letters through motion and quirky design. During Christmas last year, his “Merry Xmas” gif even went viral on Giphy, garnering approximately 40 million views in two days. “It was the top-trend on Giphy,” remarks the designer, and if Giphy is a successful measurement of anything, surely it’s accessible graphic design?