How can we design typefaces with a sense of place? Brunswick Grotesque responds to the challenge of designing a typeface for a place, being inspired by the eponymous Melbourne suburb. This typeface was born out of a Masters research project undertaken at RMIT, Melbourne.
The grotesque comprises 5 distinct widths combined randomly by means of the ‘contextual alternates’ OpenType feature. The resulting textual patina resembles an air of inconsistency, irreverence and naive charm typical of Melbourne’s inner north and Australian suburban ‘featurism’ more broadly. Further randomness is introduced via an ‘oops’ class of alternates, which appear at rare intervals to clumsily invert characters with the endearing attitude of a hurried signmaker or naive shop owner.
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In all the arts of living, in the shaping of all her artefacts, as in politics, Australia shuffles about vigorously in the middle—as she estimates the middle—of the road, picking up disconnected ideas wherever she finds them.
The basis of the Australian ugliness is an unwillingess to be committed on the level of ideas
TRIMMING, VENEER & FLOURISH
The chief characteristic is inconsistency; good and bad muddled together
The Coburg Plan
More obvious practices of false pretence crowd the lower strata of commercial design. The cubists’ plain box with gashes for windows was never a rage in the land of Featurism, but between the wars various compromises with modern architecture were produced by false means. Often in urban buildings a bold effect was given to facades by the simple subterfuge of colouring selected panels between windows a dark hue roughly matching the effect of the glass.
Condensed stylistic set
When introducing his design to the university authorities, McCutcheon announced ‘it will be a box’, and went on to explain what means he had in mind for relieving the severity of the box.
Narrow stylistic set
Localism is often seen as too minor to discuss. And yet it resurrects regularly as a fundamental element of design consciousness.
Regular, contextual alternates disabled
The Australian Ugliness begins with fear of reality, denial of the need for the everyday environment to reflect the heart of the human problem, satisfaction with veneer and cosmetic effects.
Wide stylistic set
In the Independent Church, Collins Street, in 1867, he introduced the device of Feature Bricks by sprinkling a broken pattern of creams and browns among the common brickwork for perhaps the first time in Australia.
Extended stylistic set
The house which is featured in the suburban cul-de-sac is itself a gift box of features: the living-room thrust forward as a feature of the facade, a wide picture window as a feature of the projecting wall, a pretty statuette as a feature in the picture window …