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On the Road to Variable

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1. About the project

On the Road to Variable has evolved many times, and while this may not be unusual when it comes to publishing, the reasons behind its changes shed an interesting light on the subject matter at hand. In sharing them, we first need to go back to 2009, when the idea for I Love Type (ILT) was born.

ILT was a series we developed with viction:ary to honour famous typefaces like Futura, Avant Garde, Bodoni, DIN, Gill Sans, Franklin Gothic, Helvetica, and Times. It was created out of our interest to explore how classic typefaces were being used in contemporary graphic design at the time. As students in the late 1990s, we were taught to stick to the ‘all-time classics’ in order to become good typographers. As we became teachers ourselves later on, we began to understand the benefit of limiting typeface choices for the untrained eye, and saw a deeper reason for it than just to limit potential ‘damage’. It was a credible design approach, in that using an often-seen, less expressive typeface actually gave one more freedom and room for creativity because the audience’s eye would not be instantly drawn to the typeface itself, but rather, to what was done with the typeface or the space around it.

When we published ILT, many design studios had been working with the same typefaces for decades. Even though these typefaces were typically attached to specific time periods, the ways with which they were treated to look contemporary surprised and excited us. As such, it was important for us to introduce the typefaces’ histories at the beginning of each book before revealing the creative work to evoke the same emotions in readers.

The series had to come to an end after eight volumes, not just because we had finished covering the most popular typefaces out there, but due to the fact that designers everywhere had begun changing their approach to typography. Instead of sticking to the all-time classics, they started becoming more experimental by using and making new typefaces. Distinctiveness began to rule over perfection, and instead of perceiving it as a negative development, we saw it open up a whole new playground in the design world. Typography has never been as flexible as it is today, and we are proud to have made a book on a subject matter that deserves to be delved into, no matter how many changes it went through.

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