10. Waste Typeface


In the realm of typography, the quest for innovation often treads the line between the legible and the abstract, exploring the essence of what it means for a form to convey meaning. This experimental typeface design ventures into uncharted territories, drawing its inspiration from an unconventional muse: the fluid and unpredictable form of nuclear waste water. This choice of muse is not arbitrary but a deliberate exploration of the aesthetics of decay and transformation, seeking to mirror the complex, often contradictory nature of our modern industrial footprint.

The project is an inquiry into the nature of legibility, especially in the context of senior design. It’s a known phenomenon that as we age, our visual perception undergoes significant changes, affecting how we interact with and interpret visual information. This typeface design seizes upon this shift in perception, probing the boundaries of recognizability. When does a letter stop being a letter? At what point does a typeface relinquish its role as a carrier of language and instead become a purely visual entity?

In experimenting with this typeface, I noticed that for the elderly, the diminishing legibility of the design did not equate to a loss in value. Instead, when the forms ceased to be immediately recognizable as letters or words, they transitioned into something equally compelling: visual patterns. These patterns, free from the constraints of language, communicate in a different dialect, one of texture, rhythm, and emotion.

On one hand, it challenges the conventions of typography, questioning the necessity of legibility for something to be considered type. On the other, it may lose its immediate recognizability as language, but it gains a new identity as a visual artifact, rich with its own unique aesthetics.