writing machines, or a short lesson in typography

So I have always been very interested in art and design, but it hasn't been until fairly recently that I've started thinking about what that means for something to be a really good design, both aesthetically and functionally (also, I highly recommend everyone read Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart, a book about "remaking the way we make things" ). Thus so far I think I've spent way more time exploring the physical form of Writing Machines than its actual content (though that's interesting too). I'm sure you all were immediately struck by the same things I was-- the size of the book, the choice of textured papers, the cover design, interior design, layout, fonts, and the awesome reversible edge design -- because they were obviously designed to stand out and convey meaning on their own rather than simply representing an academic text for consumption. And although they are emphasized so poignantly in Writing Machines, these design features are actually all things that must be considered in the production of every book as texture, design, layout, and font are all packed with meaning whether or not the reader is aware he/she is consuming that meaning along with the content.

Let's take typography, for example. Different fonts convey different meanings. Imagine if your history textbook was written in Comic Sans, or you tried to turn in a paper in Curlz. Not professional? In no way am I an expert on typography, but even the little I do know plus an eye for detail had me flipping through the pages of Writing Machines, comparing chapter headings and squinting at the table of contents. And all this was before I realized the book had a designer's note at the end which explained Anne Burdick's use of three different fonts, which might have saved me the squinting if not the thrill of the hunt.

Burdick's choice of different fonts to use at different times is very interesting considering the topic of the book. Beginning Chapter 1 with a sans serif font, Burdick alternates between sans serif and serif every other chapter, which hurts your brain a little bit if you can't quite figure out what's changing and when it's changing (which I didn't at first). The important thing about this choice of font alteration is why she might have made this choice. Serif fonts (times new roman, garamond) are used mostly for printed materials as they are easier to read. Sans serif fonts (helvetica, arial) are newer as they were created for electronic, non-printed materials and are easier to read on the screen.

This is turning into an essay; I, like campagnolo probably smell and need to shower; and it's something I want to mention in class. So I'll leave you with this: look at what voice she uses each font for.

see ya'll tomorrow