Josiah Rees
A font for Christchurch

  • 2020

    Submission # 103

  • Output

    Student – Ākonga

  • Kaupapa

    Wildcard – Unique Projects

    Identity – People & Culture

  • Location

    Canterbury, Waitaha

Project Overview:
Having the freedom to pursue a personal passion in our final year of study, I opted to develop a typeface inspired by my hometown, Ōtautahi Christchurch. I was interested in how type can communicate feelings and even reflect location. Rather than focussing on physical attributes of architecture and landscape, I wanted to communicate characteristics of the people; Something that was intrinsically Christchurch.

I have always found the resilience of Christchurch to be fully present in the midst of tragedy, and I have been inspired by how people are quick to show love and support. Having seen this in action during multiple events in recent years, I felt that it would be fitting for these qualities to be the driving force behind the project. With this in mind, I set out to create a typeface to interpret these characteristics of resilience and kindness typographically. These translated into two key typographic attributes, boldness and softness.

Beyond the type design, I intended to create physical executions of the typeface in the form of a print specimen and various collateral. These would tangibly embody the typeface giving it greater context by illustrating the background and design development. These other printed pieces would consist of various posters and cards to be given out at our final exhibition.

The project was based on that original intent to convey the attributes of kindness and resilience that I had witnessed as a resident of Christchurch, particularly during seasons of upheaval and distress. This was done in an effort to reflect the identity of the people of Christchurch. Kotahitanga was a key word that I wanted the typeface to visually embody as it has been a core part of the city’s sense of community in response to tragedy. As a designer, I wanted to document my experience of my hometown in a medium that I was passionate about. While the project takes on the name of the city, it concerns its people more than anything. The project came out of both a personal desire to record my experience and explore an area of design that I was particularly passionate about. Type is a unique medium for expression as it exists only as form; shaping this form to tell more of a story was a unique challenge that I wanted to explore.

Type is the visualisation of human language, being able to give form to how people speak and write was a particularly interesting aspect. A part of my self-assessment during the design process was noting whether my design looked good in the form of a compliment or encouragement. This was significant as it was shaping how I imagined the font to be used; furthering that sense of resilience, community and love that inspired me to begin with.

My project 'Christchurch', translates the city’s kindness and resilience into typographic attributes: boldness and softness. 'Christchurch' presents a personal perspective of my home to be used as a voice with which to spread love and express Christchurch culture. 'Christchurch' also possesses a general appeal as a friendly display face that can be used to say a simple ‘thanks mum’ or ‘love you, bro’. A notable feature is the Rose Window glyph, a nod to the iconic Cathedral’s window.

To show the face in a design context, I created a book recording the design process while also acting as a specimen. Text examples were presented as phrases and names familiar to the city or echoed my view of Christchurch.

Encouragement cards and posters were included as part of the communication to help express the spirit of the typeface. The cards were designed around the idea of fostering kindness through encouragements that someone could pass on to a friend. Posters featuring the rose window integrated into the lowercase ‘a’ were created to be kept as visual mementos from our exhibition.

The green and pink combination was a key visual theme to unite the communication. These colours were chosen both to step away from the typical Christchurch red and black, as well as to mirror the spring blossoms in trees within Hagley Park, a significant feature of the Garden City.

Overall, I felt the printed executions were fitting extensions of the typeface and gave greater context to those intrigued to know more.

Archiver’s Response:

"A font full of aroha and good feelings!"

"Beautifully resolved typeface that speaks to its place."

"Well crafted representation of people and place."

Credits & Collaborators:
Mentor - Alistair McCready
Teacher/Tutor - Earl Tutty
Teacher/Tutor - Graeme Kyle

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