Type Tasting created a large-scale multisensory installation for Adobe Fonts at the Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles from 2nd to 6th November 2019.
Visitors were immersed in the mood of different typefaces through all of their senses. At each station they were invited to put on headphones, to smell a scent in a jar or by flipping the pages of a book, to eat a small taster and to feel a texture. Each set of stimuli was designed to bring a mood to life in the participant’s imagination. There was curiosity and intrigue as the first visitors arrived and they were soon returning with groups of friends saying “you have to try this”.
Punk emerged as a reaction to the rigid restrictions of Modernism and its style ripped up the rules of Swiss minimalism and neutral sans serif typography. As traditional attitudes came to be considered outdated, society rebelled against the mainstream and demanded change. It feels like we are at a similar turning point today, both culturally and typographically. Can we look to history for parallels in how graphic design and cultural attitudes are changing today?
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.
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?
What is a typographic intervention? What if it’s not what it says on the tin? Can typography alter your experiences, or nudge you to change your behaviour?
This year we are exploring the potential for creating typographic interventions that initiate positive behaviour change. You are invited to take part in typographic research. Some of the experiments you will take part in are in their early proof of concept stages, for others data is being gathered potentially to be published as a future collaborative study.