Collaborative Alphabet

Alicia Cheng & Sarah Mohammadi

Some ideas sound awesome, then you think about them for two seconds longer and you wonder why it made sense in the first place.

Creating a collective typeface is one such idea … except we refused to be deterred by the many challenges that immediately presented themselves. A small sampler:

We consulted some type minded folks to discuss potential approaches and feasibility of the whole endeavor. Tobias Frere-Jones and Nina Stossinger were helpful in both recognizing the range of challenges a collective typeface would present, as well as discussing precedents. These sketches are notes on possible approaches … all of which had their individual execution issues.

We wanted to capitalize on the aggregate of design minds gathered for the presentation. In the spirit of group experimentation, we wanted the audience to engage in an act of collective making. We had no illusions of creating a bonafide typeface from the experiment, but instead wanted to test the ethos of the collaborative spirit (and have some fun whilst drinking beer).

Sarah Mohammadi created this group of forms inspired by letterform components and basic geometries. Each person was asked to create a letter based on these forms, in whatever configuration they wished. The exercise was made more performative by projecting the compositions on the screen so folks could see the decision making in action.

Even if we did end up with a ransom note typeface, this is first in hopefully a series of experiments where we adjust and calibrate the many factors to see what we end up with. Its all about making and its all good…and fine to not know the outcome.

Stay tuned!