Welcome to the virtual Type Tasting access panel. Here you have access to a selection of the research experiments that will be run live at the V&A in London in conjunction with the London Design Festival. When you’ve completed your chosen selection press the ‘sign me up’ button to be awarded your participant’s badge and to be notified of the results when they’ve been tallied up.
Are you a graphic design student? Would you like to know more about the power of typefaces and how exciting typography can be?
Type is both functional and evocative
Type functions as a carrier of words. It displays these efficiently so that the reader’s eyes can glide seemingly effortlessly across the page as they read. It is sometimes considered that type should be ‘invisible’ and not intrude on the reading experience. The title of American typographic expert Beatrice Warde’s 1930 essay, ‘The Crystal Goblet’ refers to her opinion that type should function like a clear wine glass and purely ‘carry but not obstruct’ the content. Much research into typefaces explores their legibility, focusing on the mechanics of letter shapes and how they function. Testing includes eye-tracking and monitoring response times. An example is the research Monotype type foundry has done with MIT into legibility of typefaces on car dashboards. There are rules for legible typography, scroll down to the resources section below for nine of the important rules.
However there is more to typography than legibility…
Yesterday I was invited to be one of the guests on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live to talk about how we respond to typefaces. I took along some of the games that had gone down so well at the Pop-up Type Tasting at the V&A for the London Design Festival the previous weekend. Above is actor Sophie Thompson playing the ‘Feel Me’ game matching what she can feel to one of the fonts shown, if you came along to the event last weekend you know exactly which font she’s feeling from the expression on her face!
It was such an interesting programme to be on. Sophie is delightful and a pleasure to listen to, and I was excited to meet Peter Bleksley who is one of the hunters on ‘Hunted’ with the most amazing voice. It seems that we would all love the challenge of being on the next series and going on the run in an attempt to evade capture for 28 days. Third guest Trevor Lyttleton founded a charity which works with the elderly and we had a great chat afterwards about the power of typefaces on packaging to trigger nostalgia and bring back memories.
Scroll down for links to listen to the show.
“If I were going to date a typeface, it would probably be something like Franklin Gothic bold condensed. The font is undeniably masculine—sans-serif, solid, reliable. If it were a human, it’d be the type of guy who would fix my broken sink and play football in the backyard on Thanksgiving. I’m not alone here. Lots of women find Franklin Gothic to be a total dreamboat.”
“Some proof: When graphic designer Sarah Hyndman asked women to choose between dating nine fonts including Franklin Gothic, Futura Light, Helvetica, and Arial bolded round, 20 percent of women said they’d pick Franklin Gothic as their typographic beau, the winner by a landslide. I know it sounds weird, but let me explain. Hyndman’s dating question is part of Tasting Type, a series of online experiments she’s been performing to gather data on how typography impacts human perception.”
Are you a UK design student? Prepare yourself for the new year with a discounted copy of The Type Taster and free postage (save £5). This is a book about typography from the point of view of the type consumer and takes you through the associations and science behind fonts influence you as a reader.
Buy it quickly! This edition is only available until 25th October.*
Student copies of the book will also include a selection of typography games (shown above).
“You have really opened my eyes to such a brilliant subject. It’s already making me view design work from such a different view point and I have now become excited by the possibilities typefaces present while experimenting with them.” Design student Jessica Dutton
“This alongside the typography bible (Robert Bringhurst’s elements of typographic style) should become a staple in everyone’s collection.” James (Via Creative Review blog)
“This is no boring instructional tome on the correct use of ligatures, rather it takes a look at the emotional lives of fonts, and examines how their distinct personalities create (often subconscious) emotional responses.” Grafik
If Futura Extra Bold was a person, what would they be like? Would you go on a date with them? And what does a typeface smell like? Sarah Hyndman’s Type Tasting games question our responses to fonts. Last weekend, she brought a pop-up version of her workshop to the V&A. Natalie Kelter described what happened for Creative Review.
A glimpse of the Type Tasting at the V&A for the London Design Festival at the weekend in photos. Thank you to the team of brilliant volunteers and to everybody who came along and threw themselves into the games and experiments exploring the influence of different typefaces and fonts so wholeheartedly. We estimate around 500 of you visited during the two three-hour sessions and we now have lots of research data to tally up. You can still take part in a selection of the games and experiments online if you click here.
“This brilliantly bizarre event seems like it could be plucked straight from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Uncover the personalities of your favourite fonts and learn more about your own through a series of multi-sensory games at the V&A.”
Type Tasting at #3 on Rockett St George’s Our Favourite Things to See and Do at This Years London Design Festival