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The World’s Most Beautiful Scrabble Set

And a feast for typography nerds, too!

The World’s Most Beautiful Scrabble Set

Eager to refresh one of America’s most beloved board games — until this shameful moment in history, anyway — a BYU design student recently gave Scrabble the high-design treatment: He turned it into a typographic orgy.

A-1 Scrabble, a concept by Andrew Capener, who graduated from BYU last year, has pieces that eschew Scrabble’s standard News Gothic-y look altogether in favor of a big medley of typefaces. So while you’re spelling out “highjack” (28 points, FTW!), you can really nerd things up by relishing in the visual alchemy of a Helvetica ‘C’ alongside a Courier New “z” — all on a stately walnut board that comes in a beautifully minimal birch box. Or you can buy the game with a single typeface, then snap up extra pieces in different typefaces, through Scrabble’s website, whenever you feel like something new. Capener tells us his motivation was simple: “I set out to… create a scrabble set that a designer would dream of.”

Capener, who thought up the board game for a course on packaging design, says there’s a business case to be made for A-1, too. Scrabble is the sort of board game you buy once in a lifetime, which is great for consumers — not so great for Scrabble’s U.S. manufacturer, Hasbro. “Scrabble could be making a lot more money off of its players if there could be a way for them to constantly feel as if they need to update… [m]uch like Adobe does with their software,” Capener says. So he got to thinking about typefaces. ‘Since fonts are like fashion — they go in and out of [style] — I envisioned the Scrabble font sets as being affordably tempting, leaving type-loving Scrabbleoholics powerless,’ he says. “This would provide Scrabble with a way to keep customers coming back to them, wanting to update their set.”

Interesting case. We have to wonder, though, about the buying power of “type-loving Scrabbleoholics.” That’s an awfully small consumer group you’re talking about. And if you really want to rake in the dough by marrying one geek love to another — which is ultimately what Capener is doing here — you’d have better luck marketing something like Scrabble, Dungeons and Dragons edition.

That said, we don’t doubt that A-1, as a keepsake edition, could touch up the Scrabble brand. With its emphasis on typography and design, it’s the kind of thing Hasbro could flog to high-end tastemakers like DWR and the MoMA Design Store and, in so doing, refresh its own image. Lord knows, after the Scrabulous snafu, it needs help.

[Images courtesy of Andrew Capener]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.



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