Sociotype Journal pushes the boundaries of typography


Founded in 2004, SocioDesign is a London-based design and strategy agency that works with consumer-facing brands ranging from small startups to household names like Sonos. Last year, the studio launched its type-founding subsidiary SocioType with the aim of helping customers stand out in an increasingly noisy world.

“Our work at Socio has always been very typographical, so the idea of ​​starting a retail foundry was a pretty natural progression from the work we were already doing,” says creative director Nic Carter. “We’re just at the start, but we certainly feel like we’re maintaining a design practice, because Socio alongside Sociotype is helpful, because it allows us to judge our work both from the perspective of character designer and user.”

More recently, Carter has also taken on an additional role as editor of the Sociotype Journal, a new platform for thinking about culture and society that also happens to be a type specimen. “After working so hard to create the two type families we started the foundry with, we thought a conventional specimen would sell them short. Instead, we wanted to create a more engaging and active experience – words to read, rather than just typing to watch,” he says.

The plan for each issue of Sociotype Journal is to invite interesting people – mostly from outside the world of type design – to explore a unique theme, inspired by (and typed into) a particular type family by Sociotype. “In terms of our editorial approach, we’re interested in how things connect to each other, within individual articles and under each issue’s theme,” says Carter.

“Some of these connections aren’t what you might expect, and it was important to us that the tone of the content fluctuate. There’s a mix of high and low, historical and contemporary, serious and disposable, all rubbing up against each other in interesting ways. We use the slogan ‘culture specimens’. It’s a terrible pun, but it’s a pretty accurate reflection of our approach, which is to pick up things that we find intriguing and to arrange them together, for purposes of comparison and contrast.

The journal’s first issue, The Gesture, draws inspiration from the calligraphic qualities of the foundry’s serif, Gestura. Within its pages, articles examine gestures of power and political influence; poetry in sign language; the secret codes of the illuminati; the NASA gesture VR program of the 90s; the cultural and historical significance of the raised fist, and more.

“In terms of design and art direction, each issue will present us with a new challenge, because the type presented must be treated differently each time, and because each time we must demonstrate the extent of the personality of an entire family. expanded types,” says Carter.

“It’s evident in the first issue, where the guy on some pages seems meditative and still, while on others he’s brash and boisterous. Sure, there are consistent elements throughout the issue, but each item has its own character, Gestura has 42 styles, so it was a challenge for our designer Alicia to show them all, without it all falling apart.

Looking ahead to issue two (which will be typeset in Sociotype’s second Rework font) and beyond, Carter says he hopes the review will lead to some interesting and unexpected collaborations. “The reason we decided to found the journal in the first place was to create a space for our guy to carry ideas that would be thought-provoking and start conversations, so it would be great to think that some of those ideas might come together. extend beyond the pages of the journal itself.

Issue 1 of Sociotype Journal is now available, with 10% of proceeds going to social enterprise The Black Curriculum;


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