International Journal of Art & Design Education

Letter-space: Typographic Translations of Urban Place

Volume 30.1   2011



This article discusses a Bachelor of Design honours year typography project in the medium of letterpress. The Letter-space project positioned letterpress as a textual, spatial and structural visual language, through which the experiences and meanings of a local urban place were translated, mapped and given form through typographic design.
We outline and contextualise the pedagogical approach we took in this project. In Letter-space a pedagogy based on the principles of situated and reflective learning drew urban place and letterpress into a theorised practice. Metaphorical frameworks advanced in urban theory offered new insights into the ways in which urban place could be understood. These metaphors provided departure points for specific place-based investigation and interpretation. The subject of urban place and the medium of letterpress interacted through their shared language of structure and compositional order, facilitating the processes of mapping and translation.
Examples of the student work produced in the project are discussed and show how theory and practice interacted through conceptual and metaphorical structures. The Letter-space project advanced the students’ structural understanding of the principles and practices of typographic design, while at the same time deepened an awareness of the complex relationships which form and order familiar urban places