I’ve begun a project—I hope, eventually, a book—on the history and significance of modular lettering and typefaces. I have some ideas and hypotheses, but rather than share those up front—since I could be wrong—my first goal is to find as many notable and interesting examples of modular type and lettering, historical and contemporary, as I can.
I’ve got a list well underway of relevant designers and studios: Albers, Apeloig, Bayer, Biľak, Crouwel, da Milano, le Bas, Meek (of FontStruct
fame), MuirMcNeil, Perondi, Schrofer, Schwitters, Tschichold, Watzl … but I know there are many designers and studios and examples I’m overlooking, and probably stuff even from some of the people/studios I've found that I’m missing. The problem is that ‘modular’ gets pretty loosely applied by designers, and searches online and in libraries frequently lead to examples of other-experimental or found-object type and lettering—a lot of it interesting, but broader than I need. So I could use some help from a knowledgeable community (that’d be all of you).
Here’s the definition I’m working with, for now: type or lettering is ‘modular’ if it’s generated by combining and recombining a finite set of discrete shapes into letterforms according to a relatively constrained set of rules.
1. I’m looking for more systematic examples, where the designer has produced an entire alphabet—maybe in multiple cases or versions, maybe with numerals and punctuation … and,
2. while they would meet the definition, I’m trying to avoid examples where the designer simply traces the outlines of letters with a single shape, like a circle or square (with results like simple dot-matrix fonts, or H&Co.’s Dividend
). Still, if that method winds up with something interesting like The Bee’s Knees
—then by all means share it. Also,
3. examples can be digital, metal, wood, film … whatever.
I really don’t mind hearing about examples I already know about. That’s why I didn’t list many specifics about what I’ve already gathered. Being reminded simply confirms that I was right to include them, and in any case there’s a lot I’m sure I’m missing, so don’t assume anything is too obvious if you think it’s a good match. And please feel free to share your own work.