Stencil alphabet designed for Common Ground, Venice Architecture Biennale 2012


‘There are shared common associations with architects and stencils, part of the attraction being that stencils appear built and engineered. The zinc stencils (still) manufactured by Thévenon & Cie are now emblematic of Corbusier. More significantly, stencils have traditionally been used as a convenient and economical form of “public lettering” as “everyday letters” (literally “lettres à jour”, through which you see daylight when held up). More crucially on a practical level for our exhibition design, here is a letterform perfectly suited to signage and public notices of a temporary nature. When applied as a stencil there’s a painterly quality that can’t be matched by vinyl. It seems likely the Nizioleti stencil system dates from Napolean’s occupation, and we see similar typeforms produced by Jean Gabriel Bery in Paris from c.1781. There are the inevitable variations in letterform through time too. Our stencil was far from a faithful revival or reflection (that would be the ultimate narcissistic action in this most vain of cities). Through a process of reflection and refraction we produced a letterform that was similar but not the same. We picked and mixed those characters that suited us, focusing on those with the highest frequency in the title, selecting an “O” with a perverse double cut, and an “R” with a loose curled tail (clipped from the mane of St Mark’s lion).’  (Extract from John Morgan, Common Ground, A letter from Venice, Eye magazine blog, 2012)

Our graphic identity for Common Ground was winner of the graphics category in the Design Museum Designs of the Year 2013. See the project here.