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Seeing what we don't see

There's an interesting book review in this morning's Metro - Signs: Lettering in the Environment.

Authors Phil Baines and Catherine Dixon have diligently toted cameras across the earth, pausing every time a sign or example of architectural lettering catches their eye. Tutors of typography, they're fascinated by the ways in which signage has become universally standardised, and the ways in which it remains local and distinctive. Combining history and observation with personal opinion, their book is an unashamed hymn to 'the vernacular within letterforms: its authors are fonts of wisdom on the wisdom of fonts.

Whether it's the inscriptions on the Pantheon in Rome, the construction date of an 18th-century Norfolk pub tiled into its roof or just the elegant lettering of a Reykjavik street name, their straightfaced, unadorned photographs pay homage to the roles of public lettering - to direct, inform and commemorate - imploring us to heed and admire things we've cast our eyes over a thousand times before. To see, as the authors put it, what we don't see.

I've just dusted off my credit card and done the Amazon thing...

PS The book has just arrived and it's gorgeous - highly recommended!

Posted by Brian 23.9.03 [ page link ]


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