Method of Iterating – Written Response

DRAFT 01

In this iterrating project, I tried to make a high fidelity copy of the typeface ‘BM Ikon’, created by a Turkish designer, Murathan Biliktu. The concept of the typeface is Anatolia’s vast landscapes and cultures, so it expresses abnormal and sophisticated stories through its design. For instance, BM Ikon adopted serif as its fundamental construction. But it also used a sans-serif approach to specific letters like T, C and K. In addition, he added characteristic curves to the letters like H, L and V to make the font look human-centred and graphical.

When copying, I have noticed the huge difference between recent trends in typeface design used by global companies such as Google, Burberry, YSL and BM Ikon. These typical contemporary typefaces are mainly sans-serif and give high priority in terms of legibility since the company use their logos on many types of media, not only on physical products but also screens of mobile phones and computers. From my point of view, the consequence of this typeface trend is the optimal solution brought about by many trials and errors in capitalism. 

Considering the polarised features of typeface design trends and BM Ikon, I would like to explore the possibility of communication through a typeface with further experiments.

DRAFT 02

I read Adhocism (1972, p39-53) by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver for continuing further experiments. The essence of adhocism helped to understand designing new typefaces with past subsystems; “nothing can be created out of nothing”. In this book, ‘ad hoc’ was defined as “for this particular meaning”. Through this book, I analysed the different features of typefaces between recent trends in typeface design used by global companies and BM Ikon.

Firstly, recent trends in sans-serif typeface designs are the consequences of the movement in which people have engaged in accelerating innovations after the Industrial Revolution. Societies have focused on efficiency and the succession of technological advances more than respect for traditions and human sensibilities. I assume that typefaces were not an exception to this movement because typefaces became designed mainly in a digital way around this time. On top of that, the book also explained that after repeating the evolutions as a creative stage, the design became stabilised in its most economical and efficient forms. Take a bicycle frame, for example. Its frame design has been mostly the same for eighty years. Therefore, the fact that many global companies have adopted similar typefaces might be the consequence of typefaces’ stability in the digital age.

On the other hand, the design of BM Ikon is the result of ‘ad hoc’ and critical evolution, which breaks down current typefaces’ features positively and negatively and rethinks from the start. In the book, the author stated that if the object reaches the stability stage, it does not mean each detail is also stabilised. For instance, even if the design of the bicycle is stabilised, a bicycle seat may be able to be fixed in a more economical balance. This moment means that the bicycle seat is simultaneously a part of a bicycle and an autonomous whole so that it can be transported from one context to another. When I put this example into typeface design, the evolutionary stage would differ depending on whether the typeface design is recognised as a sentence or a word or each letter itself. In this case, recent trends in sans-serif typeface designs focus on the balance, harmony and readability of words and sentences more than each letter’s beauty, and it seems to be in a stabilised stage. On the other hand, BM Ikon was dissected apart with Anatolian culture as the essence of the mutation of the typeface design to express each letter. Therefore, we can see the beauty and uniqueness of this typeface even if we see just one character.

To summarise everything, I compared the feature of typeface design between recent trends in typeface design used by global companies and BM Ikon from the point of adhocism. Then I came up with the idea that recent trends of sans-serif typefaces focus on high readability so that people can always get the same impression in any words and sentences to keep their branding image. However, BM Ikon was transported into the evolution and expressed the independent legibility of each letter.

DRAFT 03

I read Adhocism (1972, p39-53) by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver, then compared the feature of typeface design between recent trends in typeface design used by global companies and BM Ikon from the point of adhocism. After that, I came up with the idea that recent trends of sans-serif typefaces focus on high readability so that people can always get the same impression in any words and sentences to keep their branding image. However, BM Ikon was transported into the evolution and expressed the independent legibility of each letter.

I have conducted four experiments with BM Ikon to know that my interpretation of Draft 2 was mainly correct. 1) Refining the details of the typeface to explore changes in impression. 2) Mash up with other fonts to create a new font. 3) Combining two letters to determine the beauty potential of the typeface’s letters. 4) Using one letter to draw a completely different object. Therefore, I confirmed that BM Ikon is beautiful enough, even being used as a single letter, and it can keep its beauty even when the details are altered. In conclusion, this typeface is suitable for in case of logo and sign designs, using a single or a few letters to express the whole atmosphere of the brand.

Based on this interpretation, I further thought about the potential of expressing the same branding tone and manners in different languages in the digital age. In multilingual typeface design, how will the design progress to the stability stage in the future? To deepen this question, I visualised the translation from English to Japanese as a sample experiment since I could understand both languages. Coincidentally, Hiragana, one of the Japanese character types, is designed around curves, so I noticed that the BM Ikon font has a high affinity with Japanese.

In conclusion, it is possible to be translated into another language with keeping the concept of typeface design by analyzing the characteristics of each language carefully. However, it needs further thought and evolution to do this experiment in a large number of languages.

Bibliography

  1. ADHOCISM by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver (1972) pp. 39–53
  2. Murathan Biliktu’s new font explores the experience of migrant workers in Germany – It’s Nice That https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/murathan-biliktu-graphic-design-100222

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