Co.Design

Check Out The Alphabet, Redrawn By Spinning Letters Into 3-D

Spin the letters of our alphabet like tops, and this is the language you get.

They look like tops, bowls and funnels. But really? These are the letters of our alphabet in 3-D--not a hokey extrusion with a drop shadow--but actual, 360-degree perspective.

It’s called Univers Revolved, and it’s a vintage project by now-Facebook designer Ji Lee. “Univers Revolved started as an experiment while I was learning a very basic 3-D software as a student at a design school,” Lee tells Co.Design. “The software had a tool that enabled revolving a geometric shape. I thought it could be cool to rotate the letters as shapes. Once I rotated all the letters of the alphabet, I realized I had just created a 3-D font which looked super cool and playful like toys.”

Soon thereafter, Lee began playing with his new font, realizing that a 3-D letter could become a real physical object. It was stackable--not just at the micro toy scale--but at the furniture and even building scale. If letters could be bricks then skyscrapers could be novels. “Reading with the 3-D letters became more fun and mysterious,” he says. “However, it wasn’t designed to replace the existing alphabet. It’s designed to challenge our linear way of processing information which may lead us to think linearly. Instead, it may open our minds to the 3-D realm and spur spatial thinking.”

Indeed, now that I’ve studied Univers Revolved’s alphabet a bit, lamp shades may always remind me of the letter “A,” while donuts are all “Os” (or maybe that should be, oooooohhhs). The letter “P” looks a bit like a mushroom cloud to me--what a horrible letter!--while a “T” would make a fine cafe table. Looking at an old coffee cup on my desk, I wonder if it’s really just an italic “l”--but doesn’t a caffeinated cup of coffee really belong in a C? What have I been drinking all my life?

If you’re looking to put this sort of hurting on your own brain, Univers Revolved is actually a published book. Its hardcover version is all of $8 on Amazon.

Buy it here.

Add New Comment

11 Comments

  • Nikalank

    The letter 'M' is incorrect according the the spinning logic defined here... Or is it just me.. the inner side of the outer wall should be different.. 

  • Dave A.

    The biggest flaw with this is that some letters have the front end of the letter as the axis for spinning and others have the back end.  A few even have the middle.  For this to work best, all should follow the same set of rules.

  • Kayla Matheus

    I'll agree that using these letters to create robots and fantastical worlds seems completely farfetched from the initial concepts of the letters themselves. Even from an artistic standpoint.

    Instead, I find the original concept behind letters fascinating...but
    I'm a little biased. I actually came up with this same idea last year
    for my senior project in art completely unaware of the existence of
    Univers Revolved. But, my approach is instead about the intersection
    between typography and sculpture, the nature of an object, and the
    implications of translating from two to three dimensions. If you are
    going to bring letters into three dimensions, why are you leaving them
    stuck in a two-dimensional page or computer screen?

    (If you're curious, you can see my work with explanations here: http://www.kaylamatheus.com/si...
     

  • kmm

    I'll agree that using these letters to create robots and fantastical worlds seems completely farfetched from the initial concepts of the letters themselves. Even from an artistic standpoint.

    Instead, I find the original concept behind letters fascinating...but I'm a little biased. I actually came up with this same idea last year for my senior project in art completely unaware of the existence of Univers Revolved. But, my approach is instead about the intersection between typography and sculpture, the nature of an object, and the implications of translating from two to three dimensions. If you are going to bring letters into three dimensions, why are you leaving them stuck in a two-dimensional page or computer screen?

    (If you're curious, you can see my work with explanations here: http://www.kaylamatheus.com/si...

  • anon11

    This is really dumb.
    It doesn't bring anything of value to this world.
    It's idiosyncratic and whimsical, but not in a good way.
    The editorial quality of this blog is going down.