The key to great design has been described as “capturing the spirit of the client and the essence of the space”. Indeed it is twofold and it applies to these two critical factors. In addition to being quite true it is also quite meaningful. Famed Japanese Industrial Designer Naoto Fukasawa has also said, “Great design is a multi-layered relationship between human life and its environment.”
Having taken both of these into consideration how then does typography fit into the interior and how should it be used? In an attempt to determine how typography works fits into the interior the focus of this article is to address typography and to look at exactly just how typography fits into the interior.
Art and Typography: Here’s what it does to a Space
Art, we can all agree, is an avenue of expression that makes a statement. It tells a story, conveys a message, sets a tone, evokes emotion and it is supposed to add to a space rather than take away from it. Similarly, typography or the letters in text tell a story, they convey a message and they also evoke emotion. Adding them to an interior does even more in that it gives a space definition and it adds to its appeal. In short and in brief it is powerful and it makes a strong statement.
What this requires though is having an understanding of what message different types of typography can evoke.
So where does typography fit in?
Typography focuses on the art and technique of arranging type. This being said it means you have to determine what type of font you would like to use, how many fonts you would use as well as how you will arrange it. Fonts, we know, can be classified as being serif, sans serif, script or decorative. Serif fonts are those with “feet” or non-structural details at the end of some strokes while non-serif fonts are fonts “without feet” at the end of some strokes. Script type fonts are those fonts that are like formal writing styles or calligraphy or even informal writing styles. Decorative font styles on the other hand evoke a particular time period or theme and utilize unorthodox letter shapes and proportions.
The key to using a font or typeface for text is to remember that less is more. Take for example this image “Bon Appetit”. “Bon Appetit” quite literally means, “I hope you enjoy your meal.” Here in this image one typeface is used and the type in the interior together with the image of the cutlery is very simplistic but it also says quite a lot.
Firstly it defines the space as a dining room. Secondly, these two words “Bon Appetit” evoke a feeling of warmth. Thirdly, it conveys an equally warm gesture for anyone eating to enjoy their meal. Based on each of the above it is evident that the focus is clear and the elements complement each other.
Further some may suggest that instead of adding type to the interior with visual images as the image shows, wall photos with frames can easily be substituted. However these have one fundamental difference from type in the interior. Though wall photos with frames make a statement, they can also be seen as being indicative of a temporary state in that it can be changed at any time and it can be seen as a separate entity from everything else in the room. Having type in the interior on the other hand makes a stronger statement to anyone in the room. It is something that is more permanent and it flows into the visual imagery by way of the background. More so, it shows greater harmony of all the elements of the room. This is an example of what Fukasawa said in that it is an apt description of human life and its environment. Here the environment that was created is a reflection of the thoughts and emotions that are synonymous of human life.
Jet Blue. As you can see it gives any visitor text that tells a story and makes a statement. The text, as one can see, is very legible and very visible. In essence what it does is greet any potential visitor or client of Jet Blue with words that reflect the company’s focus.
One may ask why the words are being repeated. However the answer is clear! Jet Blue is synonymous with ‘Safety’, ‘Integrity’, ‘Passion’, ‘Caring’ and ‘Fun’ and its repetition is to instill it in the minds of those who see this visual that this is their focus. It is fun and ‘artsy’ and what this message will do is create a feeling and warmth and security for prospective travelers.
The text being shown going in different directions and the space being maximized can also be seen as a subtle message that Jet Blue uses flexibility and treats all clients and situations as they require but that it loves dealing with its clientele and making it journeys safe and comfortable for those who travel with them.
Similarly, like the “Bon Appetit” image, here again it is evident that the focus is clear, each piece of text complements the other and also reflects Jet Blue’s colors. A direct consequence of this is that potential travelers would be more compelled to travel with Jet Blue and they may also embrace Jet Blue’s warmth.
Making the interior modern and beautiful with text
Each of the above examples is a combination of modern and beautiful. However, in making your interior modern and beautiful one should also include scale and hierarchy. Hierarchy refers to how elements are arranged and designed to visually signal importance. Using hierarchy means some elements are bigger and bolder while others are fainter and smaller. Scale complements hierarchy by signaling focal point and as such draws attention toward some elements and draws attention away from other elements.
Quite easily this can be used in a wellness centre or in a home. Either way it serves to be motivational and inspirational. Look at how scale and hierarchy are used here! Examine which words are larger and which are in bold!
Even if someone cannot remember all of the words on the wall, attention is drawn to these: ‘Love’, ‘Do’ Happy’, ‘Smile’, ‘Laugh’, ‘Breathe’ and ‘Live’. What then is the message to anyone reading it? It is to, “Love, do Happy, Smile, Laugh, Breathe and Live”.
Here is an image that makes full use of a wall space. The text begins, “In this office…” From the text we can tell that the image in this interior is for a corporate space. Certain things stand out: there are at least four fonts and the images comprise of serif, non-serif and script type fonts. In like manner the image places certain words in bold type and as such places emphasis on various aspects of what is expected in this office. The varying fonts can be seen as an underlying message that they understand that their staff members all have varying personalities but they are all expected to subscribe to the expectations of the office. Yes, they are happy and they have coffee and cake but what they stress on is that those working in this office must also to be helpful, show respect, be a part of their team and commit to teamwork.
Now ask yourself would this use of text in this interior or any of the other interior spaces have achieved the same effect if they existed as framed photos? Surely they would not have. Each of these interiors has included typography and text and each has created a very natural effect that is in harmony with all the other elements of the space. Through the way they have been integrated they have captured the spirit of the one who the space belongs to and they have captured the essence of the space. More so they have shown the relationship between the lives of the humans inhibiting these spaces and the environments that they are in.
Based on this surely there is a better understanding of how typography fits into the interior whether it is for a residential space or a commercial space and why it makes such a difference. Having looked at four very distinct designs surely we have identified a lot of critical factors. The next time you are asked about it certainly your decision will be much easier. Typography in the interior is surely the way to go and what is even better is that you can make it modern and you can also make it as beautiful as you want it to be.
As you explore your creativity, enjoy using text in your interior and make it an interior that reflects who you are and the message you wish to share. In closing, from us to you, Happy Designing!