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.