When Type Said All and Nothing

A considerable number of typefaces and custom letters, especially those created during the 1920s and early ’30s, were designed to tickle the fancy and prod the eye. These faces were often not constructed according to the tenets of readable or functional type—they did not have to be good. But they had to have sensory appeal. That was the certainly the role of the faux Futuristic shadowed typeface for the Poggi Mario catalog (of industrial safety closures for packaging in the store and office.) The designer played with the notion of clasp holes nicked through the appropriate parts of the letters. Clever? No. Silly? Yes!

The interior layout, however, was designed without the slightest reference to or acknowledgment of the cover. Rather, each page is functional (though there’s nothing Sutnaresque here), with some pages appearing ad hoc. The various cataloged tools for cutting, pasting, labeling, printing, clasping, tying, covering, and wiring—with their 19th-century Industrial Age complexity—contrast nicely with the cover’s Futuristic ornate modernity. All that notwithstanding, it is a damn cool booklet that today seems more like a Duchampian readymade than a quotidian object (which is exactly the definition of a readymade.)

(For the exact opposite approach, see yesterday’s Nightly Daily Heller.)


For more unorthodox typography, check out the book Playful Type, now on sale at MyDesignShop.com. For more Steven Heller, don’t miss his upcoming live DesignCast, “Researching Design History: From a Personal Perspective,” taking place on Wednesday, June 27.

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