Ornamented lettering in Luang Prabang

Wat Nong Sikhounmuang


A recent trip to Luang Prabang, Laos, revealed this lovely tradition of handcarved wooden signage. As with many second cities, Luang Prabang is rich with culture and the arts, containing some of the country’s oldest and most revered temples, colonial architecture, and a lively handicrafts market. Writing is a direct window into the heart of a culture, giving form to its ideas, traditions and dialogues, so it’s no surprise in a place where traditions are alive to find abundant styles of writing. Continue reading


Parallel thinking, parallel histories

Designing type is an exercise in parallel thinking. On one level, it’s about coming up with interesting ways to inject each letter with some visual interest and simultaneously respond to the brief chosen. But on another level, it’s about ‘designing the design’, as we’ve seen before. What is it about the letters that hangs them all together? How can a set of ideas be applied consistently and logically so that it can be called a design rather than just a set of shapes? The answer to that is one reason why to me, designing a text face is so sublime: it’s necessarily about eliminating everything that doesn’t gel with everything else, refining and reducing the idea behind it to its clearest, most elegant expression. Continue reading