Category Archives: Psychology

The surprising story of the ampersand & its multiple personalities

An ampersand is an invitation to imagine what will come next. It is a continuation of a conversation or story, but without the context of knowing what went before you can choose where you would like it to go. When the symbol stands alone it is still communicating a huge amount of information from its form and its shapes; is it hand-written, is it old-fashioned and traditional, is it minimalist and modern? Every typeface tells a story independently of the words it spells out.

The ampersand is sometimes considered to be the 27th letter of the Latin alphabet. It comes from the letters ‘et’, Latin for ‘and’. It’s a character that there is wide affection for and it gives a glimpse of the personality of a typeface without committing to be a particular letter. The ampersand takes a wide range of shapes and forms, and it is the skill of the human brain that enables us to recognise that each of these still says ‘and’.

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How designing for all the senses has more impact on mood

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.

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Sarah Hyndman: “Typography can be a tool for positive change”

With the release of her two new books, Design Week speaks to the graphic designer about our annotated world, crossing over into science and why she wants everyone to have the confidence to talk about type.

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.

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Using Typography to Hack Your Brain

The psychology of deliberately making a font hard to read

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?

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