Edited and designed by TwoPoints.Net
264 pages, softcover, $39.95
Published by Victionary
On the Road to Variable is a striking, dynamic and thought-provoking book. It does, however, have a couple of issues.
First, the good news. On the Road to Variable begins with thoughtful and insightful interviews with two well-spoken designers: Felix Pfäffli of Lucerne, Switzerland–based Studio Feixen and Mitch Paone of Brooklyn-based design studio DIA. Both make experimentation an important aspect of their design ethic. “We want to learn something new with every project,” says Pfäffli. A large part of this experimentation is with typographic arrangement and variable fonts.
The interviews are followed by several hundred examples of typographic design from scores of graphic designers from around the world. The problem is, while the examples often push typographic composition to its limits, they are not precursors to future typographic expression. With designs that are reminiscent of the work of Siegfried Odermatt, Rosmarie Tissi, Wolfgang Weingart, Willy Fleckhaus, and other 1960s and 1970s European designers, the illustrations in On the Road to Variable do not so much pave new inroads as they continue the work of past masters.
The other issue with the book is its assertion that the future of typographic communication will be based on variable design. While variable design may be engaging, the transfer of information through it can be problematic. Variable typographic design may be desirable for posters, book covers and brochures, but more than 90 percent of typographic communication is still about presenting information in a concise, easy-to-read format. It’s about the message, not the messenger. —Allan Haley