Beautifully Briefed, Late March 2022: Type Museum, Toshiko Mori, and … Buick?

Catching up with a few unrelated stories that I’ve been meaning to post — including one pretty significant failure on my part, one potentially significant failure, and because not everything should be about fail, an extremely interesting and thoughtful interview.

Tiny Type Museum Sold Out

I was cleaning up open Safari tabs on my phone the other day — the detritus that results from checking things on the fly when out and about, often or never closed — and noticed that I’d sort-of bookmarked something for action and … missed it. Crap!

The Tiny Type Museum & Time Capsule, with specimens and those beautiful drawer pulls.

The Tiny Type Museum & Time Capsule is a celebration by journalist and printing historian Glenn Fleishman of type and printing, and an effort at preserving history for future generations to re-discover. Each custom, handmade wood museum case holds several dozen genuine artifacts from the past and present, including a paper mold for casting newspaper ads in metal, individual pieces of wood and metal type, a phototype “font,” and a Linotype “slug” (set with a custom message), along with original commissioned art, a letterpress-printed book, and a few replicas of items found in printing shops.

The Tiny Type Museum. (Bottom drawer.)

The museum includes a letterpress-printed book written for the project, Six Centuries of Type & Printing, in which Fleishman traces the development of type and printing starting before Gutenberg printed his Bible around 1450 up through the present day. This book acts as “docent” for the museum, providing insight into the stages in technological and artistic development that took place, and explaining the importance and nature of the artifacts. It also slides out neatly as part of a sled from the top of the museum case, and provides the visible name.

The letterpress book is still available: get your copy, or subscribe to the podcast. But even if you don’t, take a moment to appreciate the work that went into this — well done, indeed.

Buick’s New Logo

This one … I dunno. The race to do car logos flat black-and-white has seemed like a race to the lowest common denominator. (See previous coverage of BMW, Volvo, Cadillac, and more.) Below, Buick’s old (left) and new (right) logos, courtesy of Motor1:

The trademark filing for Buick’s new logo.

Thankfully, there’s been a leak — Instagram, natch, so no link here — demonstrating that it’ll still be in color:

From Instagram (alas): The new Buick logo in living color.

Still, not sure. Will have to see the official announcement and package that goes with it; Motor Trend suggests that it might be part of an EV-only future. Stay tuned for Brand New’s take, I guess….

Toshiko Mori

The former chair of Harvard’s graduate architecture program has given a great and wide-ranging interview to New Reader:

I think innovation doesn’t come in one huge leap. It’s a series of small steps. Accumulations of small discoveries, followed by incremental implementation. And then it all adds up. Innovation is not a single idea—it’s incredibly incremental and additive. Even these small discoveries can change the way we think about things very quickly. So I think every step of the way—problematizing “what are the issues?” and “what are the solutions?” filtering issues of sustainability, supply chain, accessibility, will eliminate many solutions which are not possible. And then you end up with small nuggets of potential. In a way it’s very systematic, innovation, and so is experimentation. It’s the elimination of what’s not possible and focusing on goals.

Toshiko Mori. Image courtesy of New Reader.

You know, history is not about the past, really. History is about the story of an individual interpreting history. Historians cannot be unbiased narrators. Every history is a story, and then yes, there are facts—which are important, but the way you connect facts and then make diverse narratives is super interesting. 

As you can see, Fox News provides false narratives, and a lot of times they skew the facts, and that’s a problem. It can be used dangerously, but it can also be used productively. I think that’s what makes history rich. It’s not about the past, it’s about projecting into the future. So when I teach students, I ask them to make their own story based upon their research. But it’s a story—so that’s kind of their own reality. And based upon that reality, they can develop diverse narratives and then communicate the story to others. It’s not as if you have different opinions, but you have different stories to share. It’s not about controversial opinions, but about the way we each look at life very, very differently—and that enriches everybody.

The whole thing is definitely worth a read: Archinect News called it a “nuanced interview,” and if anything, that’s an undersell. Please go, reflect, and appreciate.

Side note: New Reader‘s notes throughout the interview deserve special mention (see the red Greek letters and separate, well, sidenotes). Nice.

Letterpress Typeface from Plymouth Press

Letterpress type, digitally

James Brocklehurst is leading a new kind of innovation method for typography, harking back to the good old days of the letterpress. The technology uses scanned letterpress prints for each letter, and through scripting, randomly cycl[ing] through a range of alternate letterforms whilst you type.

The font uses OpenType scripting to automatically cycle through a range of alternate glyphs for each character, giving a ‘random’ appearance as you type. (Alternates can also be chosen manually in supported applications.) Very nice, and if you jump through some hoops, some neat results:

Letterpress type, digitally

It’s display only — no numbers, limited punctuation — but absolutely worth the download. And did I mention it’s free? Go!

(Via It’s Nice That. Thank you.)

Typographic Illusions

“A collection of free tools for demonstrating typographic phenomena, for anyone teaching or studying typeface design.”

Great stuff from Hoefler & Co., stemming from an episode of the Netflix series on design. Enjoy.