We absorb information through all of our senses simultaneously. This speeds up our ability to judge situations and react quickly and is fundamental to our ability to recognise signals and communicate. This played a vital role in human survival when our ancestors needed to respond to danger quickly, often relying on sound or smell when it was dark and a large proportion of our genes are still devoted to detecting odours.
Graphic designers and type consumers interact with typography in very different ways. Each is just as much of an expert in their own field of experience, but one interacts consciously and the other subconsciously.
When Design Week catches up with Sarah Hyndman, she’s just coming to the end of a week’s stint at this year’s Adobe Max in LA. There, she has designed a multisensory installation in which she asks participants to associate the smell, sound, taste and feel of five different typefaces.
A central intention of design today is to reduce cognitive load, the amount of effort the brain needs to understand something, so that communication and comprehension are quick and easy. So it was a bit surprising when a typeface specifically designed to be hard to read recently made headlines in the design world. Why would anyone purposefully make a font difficult to read, you might ask, when developments in printing technology and type design have strived for centuries to make words more, not less readable?