If you’re in the market for a 3-D font, you’ve got plenty of options. How about Heldentica, a typeface based on letters squeezed from an Aquafresh tube? Or Kasheeda, the world’s first 3-D printed script? Then again, toothpaste is messy and 3-D printing is insanely expensive. Barcelona graphic design studio Lo Siento skew lo-fi, designing lovely architectural typefaces with common household materials, from bubble wrap to card stock.
This summer, the editors of Tokyo visual culture magazine +81 commissioned the office to design the cover of their September issue. The theme was (somewhat vaguely) “next creativity,” giving the studio a certain amount of latitude to work. “We decided to create a typographic lettering based on the use of bubble wrap and injecting water with coloring,” explain the designers, who used a hypodermic needle to inject each individual bubble with a solution of food coloring. They tried cyan, magenta, and yellow. Cyan won out for the final cover, which showed a photograph of a sheet of bubble wrap hanging in front of a Barcelona beach, the words "next creativity" injected into the regular grid of bubbles.
The bubble wrap type is actually based on the success of Lo Siento’s award-winning 4D Type, an alphabet of six-sided letters that can be read from any angle. Each letter is the result of extruding the two-dimensional character in six different directions. The letters are modeled by hand, using heavy card stock and glue. They’re half sculpture, and half type--Lo Siento even uses four of them to support a glass coffee table.
Empo is another paper-and-glue typeface, designed in 2010 for a Spanish Psico-osteopathy office (osteopathy refers generally to homeopathic medicine). Like 4D, Empo is made from hand-modeled pieces of cream-colored cardstock, faceted to resemble bones. Along with the alphabet, Lo Siento included paper models of human body parts--heart, spine, brain--in the identity.
As charming and unconventional as these typefaces are, Lo Siento explain that they each emerged from an obsession with the constraints of traditional orthogonal typography. “[Each typography] is always inspired by a study of the grid,” Lo Siento say over email. “Each existing grid can hide a typographic character and thus, an alphabet.” In other words, rules were meant to be broken. And then rewritten in bubble wrap and food coloring.
[H/t Design Boom]