The Space Between: Type and Architecture

Today I finally watched the movie Helvetica, which I been meaning to do for awhile.  I had gotten especially more interested in graphic design hanging around IwB and befriending graphic designers. It is a profession I greatly respect and see as powerful and relevant to much of my work.

I often see design professions as metaphors for each other, with similar principles in many.  In the movie, I saw parallels between  graphic design and urban design.

Namely, one thing I noted was a designer saying (and I’m paraphrasing)

“Type is not black and white. It is about the white.
It’s about the spaces in between.”

He went to explain that in good type design, the white space holds things together (rather than seemingly forcing a shape into it).  It describes things I usually wouldn’t notice like the space in the middle of an “a”for example.

This I thought is how I see cities!! I love the spaces in between – the public spaces and streets etc – these are the spaces I too think that hold the order, and buildings.   Sure it works in harmony with the ‘black’, but this would be different view to a designer who think objects (buildings) are more important.

The movie also showed how someone approached the development of a new type.  The designer first creating a “h”, then an “o”, then an “p” to then help create the other letter.  He then described how he would start to put letters into words to test them in a CONTEXT.   I thought this is true as in architectural design – a single building is like a single letter- it could be beautiful but has no real meaning until it is tested in a context and urban setting.

PS.  This also totally reminds me of the Dave Matthews Band song-
The Space Between
What’s wrong and right
Is where you’ll find me hiding, waiting for you
The Space Between
Your heart and mine
Is the space we’ll fill with time
The Space Between…


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