“The future of design is in the creation of tools”: Meet the Space Type Generator

16 May 2019

Space Type Generator is not only anyone’s gateway into the mind-boggling world of motion type design, it is also an extremely fun tool to play around with. For anyone that is a complete novice to motion graphics (myself included) simply opening this tool in your web browser makes you feel more technology-fluent, as what unfolds before our very eyes once that webpage loads, is a reservoir of hypnotically moving type.

Though we’d like to take credit for the bespoke creations that are possible due to the Space Type Generator, the handy work of the type motion design tool is really down to Kiel Danger (yes that is his middle name) Mutschelknaus. Beginning his career in advertising, Kiel went onto study an MFA in 2D design in Detroit which is where he first started experimenting with motion design. “At Cranbrook Academy of Arts I got really excited about learning new tools and technology,” Kiel tells It’s Nice That. After graduating, he became a full-time faculty member at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s graphic design department; a profession he continues to this day which also proves “very helpful with these type explorations.”

“Most of the content we consume is on a screen,” explains Kiel on his interest in moving type. “Understanding the potential of that design in motion is a necessity. In the larger context of graphic design, motion and generative design are basically new. It’s a history being written (or coded?) right now, and being part of that conversation is incredibly exciting and filled with the unknown."

The concept for the generator began around a year ago when Kiel designed a series of faux AR videos on Instagram in the form of a moving typographic chandelier made in After Effects. “Designing the pieces in After Effects was a good place to start,” says Kiel on his type experiments, “but it was cumbersome, and as the forms became more complex, it became harder to iterate. By this point, I knew the geometry well and decided to create a version in the coding programme Processing. It translated perfectly.”

From there, Kiel incorporated parameters on the fly as the type was moving. Gradually, he layered up different kinds of motion and added variables using sliders for more interaction. “It exploded from there,” adds Kiel on his creation. With The Space Type Generator now live and online, there are still an “overwhelming” amount of tweaks Kiel hopes to add to the type tool. These include adding actual typefaces to the current format, including non-Latin alphabets for its international users. Not to mention a number of technological advancements that Kiel is in the process of implementing.

“I think the future (or a future) of design is in the creation of tools rather than the creation of the designs,” says Kiel. “Space Type Generator is in this spirit, it creates a fluid system rather than a final form. I’d like the users to consider this notion, and think of this project as a new method of design in itself.” As the generator is open-source and the code is on Github, Kiel welcomes any users to help iterate and design the collaborative tool further, so we can all enjoy the tool, whether it’s for reasons relating to design or just plain fun.

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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