in DD3016-HISTORY OF DESIGN, My Work, Process, Research

History of Design – Writing to Typography Reflection

In this first lecture, we started off with a Lascaux cave painting that dates back to an unimaginable 15000-10000 BC. When we first started the module, I was expecting the topic of ‘typography’ to be associated more with contemporary designs and fonts, as those are the modern typography styles that we are currently using today.

It is very interesting to learn how people used to express themselves in the past, mainly through symbols and drawings like pictographs and petroglyphs. Designed mainly for communication purposes, they were very straightforward in meaning and are much easier to interpret as compared to the language that we all know today. It is really interested how the modern day language and alphabet can carry such distinct and abstract meaning and is widely spread among people today regardless of region and language.

We’ve also looked at some Chinese calligraphy that area also similar to the ancient Egyptian pictographs, in the way they were derived and evolved from rudimentary drawings and symbols. I actually quite like the circular forms of the olden Chinese writing as they were more expressive, and ‘human’, making them more interesting to play with when put into the context of typography.

The ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs are also very interesting, as information such as the direction of the hawk’s beak dictates the reading direction. Unlike our modern language form, the language medium used back in the day was very visually engaging and expressive. The way they are created is interested as a picture could also be interpreted in different ways. However, simple pictures are are quite hard to interpret for messages that are may contain several layers of meanings and are less literal. Being simple, it is not hard to wonder if the language carried different layers of meaning that we may not have deciphered yet, thus remaining mysterious and intriguing to most today.