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The 3D Type Book

From toothpaste to x-rays, typography's new creative shapes

by Karen Day in Design on 01 April 2011

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As common as alphabet soup or as involved as Craig Ward's plant-cell letterforms, "The 3D Type Book" proves how exciting syllabary can be when it comes off the page. The book features over 160 designers and 300 projects, all compiled by London multidisciplinary studio FL@33.

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Apart from a brief foreword by Andrew Byrom, the reference book relies on strong imagery (over 1,300 photos in total) to show the wildly creative variety of works inspired by the shape of letters. Byrom—whose "Interiors" furniture font is also featured— says of the impressive breadth of ingenious ideas, this is not simply "Helvetica rendered in pebbles, neckties, venetian blinds, socks or cheese." Stunningly inventive works like "Typeface in Skin" by Dutch designer Thijs Verbeek are a good example of Byrom's positioning of the phenomenon as really "a reaction to the limitations and constraints of unexpected materials and processes that help shape—or often force—the outcome."

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Other standouts include the transgenic (DNA-mixing) "Typosperma" project (above) from self-proclaimed "typoholic" Oded Ezer; Sean Martindale's eco-focused "Nature" concept; and the colorful "Medicine Capsule Alphabet" by Simone Stecher.

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Many lettering projects are self-initiated, but the publishing industry often taps designers to add visual appeal to otherwise dry text. For their 2009 design issue, Independent Magazine enlisted Australian design group Rinzen, who integrated script into a chair for their cover. HunterGatherer's work has graced the front of both New York and The New York Times magazines with sculptural works deceptively constructed from wood.

"The 3D Type Book" sells online from Amazon.

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