A good way to learn more about a city is through its signage and typography – the bright new signs, the ageing signs and the hidden signs.
Founder of typographic studio, Letterbox and RMIT typography lecturer, Stephen Banham, is due to release Characters (on sale in September) which promises to share the cultural stories revealed through typography in Melbourne – the signs which have helped to shape its character and history. Through meticulous research, Banham has investigated signage including – The Herald Sun building, a victim of typographic crime; the Shell sign that inspired illegal gambling and had to be removed; the hidden typographic messages in the laneways of Melbourne; the traces of the 1956 Olympic Games hidden in the streets, and the darker side of the Qantas logo.
Published by Thames and Hudson, the 272 page hardcover book will be available from September 2011. Pre-order your copy here. In the meantime, you can catch Banham at the 2011 Melbourne Writers’ Festival on 27 August and 2 September, leading a twilight walk around the city’s mysterious corners to reveal how letterforms reflect and influence social and cultural life of a city. Details here.
Watch out for an article in the October issue of desktop, taken from Characters, about the story behind Allen’s Sweets sign.
All images copyright Thames and Hudson.