The pursuit of modularity in typefaces was particularly in vogue in the 1920s, when mass-produced modular elements began being used in buildings and furniture. For Doppia Firma, the type designer Erik Spiekermann set out to produce a set of shapes with which letters and numbers can be composed. He made these squares, circles and triangles in three sizes (6, 12 and 24 “cicero”, a typographic measure) in order to have more combination possibilities. The symbols are almost the same as the Futura Schmuck, the ornamental elements belonging to the Futura typeface designed in the 1920s by Paul Renner. “Spiekermann’s project probes the future of print,” says the typographer in charge of the Tipoteca, Silvio Antiga.
It unites digital technology with letterpress.” In what he calls a post-digital approach to printing, Spiekermann drew the modules by computer, after which a numerically controlled milling machine cut them out of different materials. Maple is traditional, but this year that type of wood could only be found in small sizes, so the larger shapes were cut from formica. “It prints well and looks good in the press,” he says. Letters are composed inside a metal frame called the printing forme. Once the type is set, it is printed on paper by means of a letterpress. “This project explores where art ends and communication starts. When does our perception allow us to simply enjoy shapes and colour, and when does our intellect tell us to look for meaning?” queries Spiekermann.