A group of people got together in Cubbon Park recently for a typervention picnic. They had fun making the letters of the alphabet with food!
On the last Sunday of June this year, a group of 20 people got together in Bangalore’s Cubbon Park for a picnic. While it was fun and there was food, there was also a creative angle to the whole idea. This was no ordinary picnic. It was a typervention — where you create experimental typography installations from everyday materials. You play around with the way letters of the alphabet look, and in this picnic, the group was determined to eat its own words.
Typography is the art or process of designing and arranging types/fonts, with special emphasis on the style and appearance of the font.
Typeface designer Pooja Saxena mooted this idea because she, and another fellow designer Kriti Monga of Turmeric Design had earlier attempted, rather successfully, several similar typervention art installations in Delhi in 2010. “We are an FB group of about 50 people,” says Pooja, who was away from the country after the Delhi initiative, and is now settled in Bangalore as a consultant for Apple. “I thought a picnic would be the perfect idea for Bangalore weather. Typography is big now. I wish I could pinpoint why, though I think with greater use of the Internet and with products being more cross-cultural, typography needs to be good. Websites have become more ‘designed’. I mean there was an entire movie named after a font — Helvetica.”
A majority of the group that gathered in Cubbon Park were designers, web developers, photographers and graphic designers, students from the National Institute of Design (NID) who landed there with beans, candy, salt, breakfast cereal, bananas and other food to work with.
“The idea is to create typography that is beautiful for people to see, in a public space. It does turn into an interactive installation, but it’s more about the ‘fun’ of doing it, and building something creative.” Once it was decided that food will be the material used, the thought of idioms and phrases that used food in it — “in a jam” (made with, what else, but jam), easy as pie, eat your own words. They also made the Kannada word “Bendakaalooru”, the word from which the name of the Bangalore is derived with boiled beans!
Rasagy Sharma, a 23-year-old design student from NID who participated in the typervention is working on his Masters in informal interface design. He gives a pretty good picture of what sort of a gap such a typervention fills, and how it brings new people together in a city; he took along an engineer-friend to the picnic. “I am interested in typography and I’d seen the typervention in Delhi. It’s a dream come true for designers to go on a picnic to have fun with letters. Moreover, I’ve been in Bangalore two years now and had never had the time to see Cubbon Park. It was also good to meet new people whom I only knew online, on Facebook.” Rasagy worked on a cheeky take on the Hindi phrase “Ulloo banana” with, using the Hindi meaning of banana or make, using bananas! They also made the word “foxy” using the Foxes candy, “eye candy” using candy, and the Hindi word “naacho” with nachos! “We’ve grown up writing letters, but it’s never been ‘fun’. It was always a mundane activity. Now we don’t even write much, we only type. In fact, I found it difficult to even remember how you write certain Hindi alphabets!”
The earlier typerventions Pooja has been a part of have used the Bharati Braille scripts and paper boats, among others. “Food was incidental,” says Pooja, who also runs a baking blog. “Next time, for the typervention in Bangalore, we are toying with the idea of using board games. We hope to do a typervention once a month. The idea is to find any interesting material to work with,” says Pooja. “Moreover, this is a great way to introduce people to concepts of type-design. Otherwise design is limited to the design community; other people don’t take it seriously. We had curious onlookers in Cubbon Park — some came and just saw, some asked what we were doing and got the idea, many walked away with a smile on their face.”
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