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]