Typography

Typography by the Homeless

Sadly, the sight of a homeless person holding a hand-scrawled sign asking for spare change has become all too familiar in cities around the world. Barcelona-based Arrels Foundation and The Cyranos McCann ad agency found a novel way to respond to such handwritten appeals. They created Homelessfonts.org to market typefaces drawn by the homeless in Barcelona to businesses for use in advertising and packaging. In different workshops, volunteer design professionals led homeless participants through various typographic exercises, which were then scanned and converted into usable fonts. The fonts are being sold on the Homelessfonts.org website, and collected funds are being used by Arrels to offer shelter, food, and social and health care services to the indigent in Barcelona. Arrels reports that about 3,000 homeless are currently in Barcelona, 900 of whom actually live in the street. Type design is an unusual charitable fund-raising initiative, to say the least, but it has given Arrels the resources to care for nearly half of the homeless in Barcelona.

Architecture

Iconic Styles of Renowned Architects From A to Z

Argentine architect Andrea Stinga and Colombian graphic designer Federico Gonzalez put together this animated video of globally renowned architects and their most notable work. The minute-and-a-half long video manages to squeeze in a lot of information, including architects and landmarks from around the world. Still, art director Gonzalez apologizes that some legends had to be left out because they only needed one architect per letter of the alphabet. Stinga is a principal in Ombu Architecture, based in Barcelona, Spain. The music soundtrack is “The Butterfly” by Eugene C. Rose and George Ruble.

Packaging

All-Natural Meals in a Can

Querida Carmen, pre-cooked traditional foods from Spain, suggests its all-natural ingredients and clean, distinct flavors through the uncontrived look of its packaging. Barcelona-based design agency, Grafica, developed the name, identity and packaging for the brand. In addition to its appealing graphics, the packaging cleverly keeps the “wet” ingredients separate from the dry ones by placing a metal can within a cardboard carton. Everything is pre-measured, pre-chopped and pre-cooked, and all the home cook has to do is bring the ingredients in the can to a boil and then add the rice or noodles a few minutes before serving. Dinner is served.

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Architecture

Wicker Architecture and Cardboard Signs

The wicker basket façade of the Spanish Pavilion, designed by Barcelona-based architects MiralleTagliabue EMBT, for the 2010 Shanghai Expo has appropriately garnered awards and accolades—to the point where the cardboard signage system inside has not attracted much media attention, which it also deserves.

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Information Graphics

Graphically Evoking Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”

Our musical notation system follows a convention that dates back centuries. By reading it, musicians can get an aural sense of melody, tempo and all the other instructions on how the score should be played. But what if the notations were shown in graphically different colors and dot sizes? This is a study done by graphic designer Laia Clos of Mot Studio in Barcelona. Clos explains that the self-initiated project started with a woman in her studio who has a knowledge of music. From there, they created a new graphic musical notation system called “SisTeMu,” which translates a musical score into simple geometric forms and basic printing colors, exploring the rhythmic and melodic harmonies found in the musical composition. The system somewhat simplifies the complexity and mathematical structure, making it accessible to the viewer through a visual narrative. For their first translation, they used the musical data for the lead violin part of Antonio Vivaldi’s baroque concerto, “The Four Seasons” (or “Lesquartrestacions”). In addition to producing a booklet documenting how to read the SisTeMu system, Mot Studio created limited edition posters of each concerto (or season) and a set of postage stamps, which you can order from Mot’s website http://tomedicions.bigcartel.com/.

Clos presented graphic extracts of her musical notation system on postage stamps, part of a limited print run of 300. The postage value is equivalent to Spain’s regular national charter.