Does the alphabet take on more meaning when it’s freed from the confines of cast-in-lead movable type, pen and paper, and the frame of a computer screen? Capturing words and letters in media that range from human skin to mini-sandwiches, 3D Typography is a celebration of the words that emerge in unexpected locales and language that has an intrinsic bond to its varied means of conveyance.
Jeanette Abbink and Emily CM Anderson—former Dwell creative director and senior designer, respectively—curated the tangible typefaces in this collection from projects around the world: Trash gathered by students is assembled to form the word “used”; a pianist’s solo is promoted with piano-wire script; cheese falls from a grater in the shape of the letters “M-I-C-E.”
The evocative forms that adorn the pages are messy, playful, complex, imperfect, and, at times, nearly illegible. Though Helvetica’s perfectly balanced composition conveys a clear message, it is precisely this collection’s disconnect between easy reading and meaning that makes discovering and deciphering it such fun. We just wish the book were accompanied by a traveling exhibition, allowing the words to be experienced in more than two dimensions.