“In design, it’s really easy to over-rationalise and over-intellectualise concepts”, explains type designer and graphic designer Imogen Ayres. “This can result in something tortured and knowing when to stick to the rules or when to break them is an important part of type design”. Imogen’s understanding of design concepts can be seen in her type foundry, Möbel type, founded in her final year of studies at The Glasgow School of Art where she created Lacuna as an experiment into “a highly instinctive design process,” reflected in its name meaning “a blank gap or a missing part” in Hindi.
With plenty of other typefaces designed since, Lacuna remains the most popular typeface on Möbel Type, “it has an idiosyncratic character — which people seem to like — though it’s gone through many iterations since the first cut”, Imogen tells It’s Nice That. “I’m currently working on a new weight intended for body copy, Lacuna Book”, historically, the type weight “book” was used for long texts. “I hope to implement the subtleties needed for this purpose whilst retaining the charm of the original — less exaggerated thicks, thins, serifs and more optical adjustments of the weighting, such as taller ascenders and shorter descenders”. Lacuna Book ensures intriguing typographic qualities as it combines Imogen’s detailed and practical knowledge of type to her original design that was created intuitively. Most notably, Lacuna Bold is seen in the visual identity for Glasgow International Arts Festival, as well as last year’s identity for Pitchfork Music Festival.
Another Möbel typeface is Ripley, used for the identity of Slottsfjell, a music festival in Norway. Ripley’s inspiration derives from the visual language of alien abductees, its distinctive octagonal counters and bowls echo its science-fiction origins; enhanced by quirky, curved crossbars that intersect with the rigid straights of the typeface.
The three latest additions to Möbel are part of a collaboration with graphic designer, Caitlin Smith. The collaboration came about following the discovery of Caitlin’s granddad’s old record collection which had been extensively water-damaged over the years, however the sleeve’s incredible typographic details serve the foundation for the typefaces Zonophone, Supreme Value and Do You Dance.
Imogen also regularly collaborates with designers Neil McGuire and Edwin Pickstone, and they group were recently commissioned by the Scottish author and artist Alasdair Gray to digitise his hand-lettering for his latest publication. The project presented its challenges “as it involved working within a framework created by someone else who isn’t a type designer, and therefore doesn’t follow the rules”, explains Imogen. “Together, we worked out a system and where to break it. We found a way to retain the integrity and the character of the original hand-lettering while making something appropriate for print”.
Currently, Imogen is working at London-based graphic design studio Kellenberger-White; “the role has been incredibly informative for my practice because it involves more than making type”, says the designer. “Working there has allowed me to use a circular design process, from creating a typeface, working with it in context, then feeding all the knowledge I’ve gained back into the design. It means I am creating something functional and fit for purpose, as well as driven by a strong concept”.