Robin Cédric Kiesel on embracing the power of ‘disturbance’ in typography

Robin's latest project caught our eye for its impressively vast editing tool which encourages disruption in lettering.

22 August 2023

There’s always something oddly refreshing about ‘disruptive’ typography – the kind which challenges normative aspects of type design, or the kind which makes the eye look twice, or three times over to really get a grip of its shape and form. The latest work from designer Robin Cédric Kiesel is just that, boasting an impressively crafted generative typography project. “What I found exciting about disturbances [in type] is that they can evoke negative associations in common usage, even though a disturbance in itself is something neutral,” Robin tells It’s Nice That. “How such disturbances can be cultivated in the design process was one of my core questions.” Coming from his final thesis project, the Stoer editor is the “practical implementation” his work, combining finds of disturbances and generative typography to result in a series of three investigations into the “conscious use of disturbance in typography.”

As for what this may mean to Robin, the designer defines disturbances as “something that breaks the expectations that the viewer has of typography”. Think of how the majority of type seen in our daily visual intake is plainly palpable, without any trace of error. Imagine, then, if the type face had deliberate errors, something in the lettering that feels quite off yet somehow works. “Through the disturbance of the letter form, all kinds of emotions can be generated, whereby the contents of the respective design can be transported in a strengthened or weakened form,” Robin adds. “The goal of my work was ultimately to develop a tool that enables people to create disturbances in typography themselves.”


Robin Cédric Kiesel: Stoer – Investigations into the conscious use of disturbances in typography (Copyright ©  Robin Cédric Kiesel, 2023)

The Stoer editing tool is incredibly fun to play around with, but in its array of different variable font styles it unearths just how much potential lies in a “disturbance” of typographic design. “The way the font has been constructed was defined by the function of the font,” Robin explains. “My goal was to divide the letters evenly into different segments, using the same components. The original component was the square, but as the work progressed, I added more and more shapes, such as the circle, the diamond or the line.” For Robin, the experimentation with Processing and p5.js came from creative coder Tim Rodenbröker, “but for the typographic part I had no specific inspiration”, he explains. “The fonts themselves are intended for a design audience, but the editor can be used by anyone with a passion for experimental typography.”

So, how did the Stoer font and its editing tool come to fruition, exactly? Robin cites a mixture of trial and error and cross-hatching different methods across different softwares. “I conducted the first experiments with the help of Processing. I created countless variants of randomly combined typefaces, which I called ‘letter hybrids’,” he explains. “ In Glyphs, I then created a variable pixel font in which the individual components of each glyph can be regulated via an axis. To influence the axes of the variable font and to randomise them I used p5.js and with the help of HTML/CSS and some additional Javascript I was able to integrate the whole thing on my website as an editor.”

Now, the editor stands on its own as a beautiful online tool that allows both designers and people without a design background to “interact with disturbances in typography and create disturbed letterforms”. With such a tool ready to use, we hope to see more thought-provoking, ‘disruptive’ letterforms out there in the typography world for years to come.

GalleryRobin Cédric Kiesel: Stoer – Investigations into the conscious use of disturbances in typography (Copyright ©  Robin Cédric Kiesel, 2023)

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Robin Cédric Kiesel: Stoer – Investigations into the conscious use of disturbances in typography (Copyright ©  Robin Cédric Kiesel, 2023)

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About the Author

Joey Levenson

Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.

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