— Type based commentary

A country of mashed types and big ideas


















Just off the Hume Highway on the main Street of Gundagai, New South Wales is a selection of layered type styles and graphic treatments creating a mash of history and aesthetics.




… and down the road are fine symbols and locked machines and giant beasts.

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Mannix is out of the way yet everywhere

St Colman's, Carlisle Street, Balaclava

St Colman's, Carlisle Street, Balaclava



Born in 1864 and passed in 1963 Dr Mannix was one Australia’s longest serving Archibishops of over 40 years.

According to website Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Mannix’s service to he diocesan faithful increased from 150,000 to 600,000; churches from 160 to 300; students in Catholic primary schools from 21,792 to 73,695; secondary pupils from 3126 to 28,395; priests increased by 237, brothers by 181, nuns by 736; 10 new male and 14 female orders were introduced; 10 seminaries and 7 new hospitals, 3 orphanages, homes for delinquents, the blind and deaf, hostels for girls – which amounts to scores of plaques and masses of hand carved stone lettering.

This modest design allows the stiff yet playful letterforms jump out of this slab of uncompromising stone.

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Adelaide types

When one isn’t trying to think of the perfect after party play list that pleases absolutely every red blooded person on the planet, one is seeking refuge in type.

The Exeter Hotel is one of the many landmark public houses in CBD Adelaide — One can have a parmagana with an $849 bottle shiraz. The public bar stands as it has since the last renovation for a hundred years — a long room, modest timber finishes, with a long bar and high ceilings — not a white on white fit out in sight. So to stands a history of much of the venacular type. While many cities mow down their obscure type history, in Adelaide it is kept in tact, at least till it‘s relevance is discussed at a community level — let‘s not forget this is the Australian state that was the first to grant indigenous and woman the right to vote. In the long bar one designer‘s interpretation of a local beer brand is allowed to stand next to it‘s former incarnation — please enjoy David Lancashire‘s interpretation of the Southwark brand in the 1980s completed entirely as a piece of hand lettering. Then there is the Exeter Window lettering, the cross bar of the ‘E‘s, is strangely enforced in the ‘H‘. One wonders (as only a type nerd can) if the hand letterer made this touch of a whim; on the spot of hand lettering the piece, or was it a design drafted in the weeks, or days before?

Then there is that curious font used for the the recent AGDA National Design Awards developed by Voice studio in Adelaide and it‘s inspiration… The Adelaide Produce Exchange facade lettering on Grenfell Street, Adelaide. The word Exchange is a glorious sample of eccentric type design at it‘s most individual.

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Make write/here your project

Andrew spent a few days last week as one of the guest speakers at the Symposia conference held in Wagga Wagga in southern New South Wales. One of the other speakers at the conference was Tasmanian based artist Justy Phillips.

Phillips is a native of Great Britain now based in Hobart Tasmania, who lectures at the Design Faculty at the University of Tasmania. In 2006, along with artist James Newitt, Phillips dreamed up a unique community project — write/here. The project is a special event that combines conceptual thinking, research, writing, graphic design, along with fund raising, planning, the fine art of diplomacy and hundreds of hours of old fashioned persistence.

In April 2007, all the major advertising billboard sites in Hobart‘s CBD, twenty seven spaces, were taken over by splashes of red with white type, dressed with the thoughts and impressions from residents of Hobart. The write/here project took Hobart by storm for 10 days, during the Ten Days on the Island festival. The event changed the way locals of thought about the community, divided and brought together public opinion and revealed the impact of advertising in the public space.

Phillips and Newitt has captured this extraordinary project in a splendid publication that documents the intent right through to the making. Visit write/here for your copy.

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For Caulfield types

The advent of shopping destinations and households having ready access to cars has seen the decline of local shopping precincts. Derby Road, Caulfield East is one of the many roads in Melbourne that have seen busier days. There are signs that this deserted shopping strip was once a vibrant place. Many shop fronts are now empty, and buildings that once were banks and hardware stores are now occupied by services — accountants, lawyers and architects — that typically use office space rather than street frontage to display products, produce and wares. One of the surviving stores in this precinct is the newsagent with a fine sample of signwriting on its northern wall. The type with its leaf like flourishes, smells of Art Nouveau styling which possibly dates the work around early 1900s. Yet the seven digit telephone number does bring into question whether this piece has enjoyed a little loving restoration. If there is a type nerd lurking out there that can fill in the gaps, a comment or two is beckoning.

For the design students at studying at Monash it is a five minute walk away. See location here

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