Type is what meaning looks like.

The Word is the newly opened ‘National Centre For The Written Word’ in South Tyneside. It is an impressive, contemporary building, housing all kinds of resources and facilities relating to the English language, in both written and spoken form. It is also why the design and more specifically, the typography, of the internal signage is such a huge disappointment.

The random mix of Alternate Gothic, various Helveticas and the not-quite-Comic-Sans set in both caps and upper/lower case, create an uncoordinated, confused mess. Those responsible for the internal graphic design have seemingly made no attempt to establish any kind of consistency, hierarchy or logical, thought-out structure to any of the signs. And the weird dark red/dark grey colours, which appear to be the main palette, do nothing for the aesthetics let alone the readability.

A missing word space after the ’N’ and a missing full stop after the ’T’ on the lower sign (LEARN& DISCOVER I. T) is just one example of how sloppy and ill-considered a lot of the signage is.

We know that ty­pog­ra­phy is not a mathematical prob­lem with one cor­rect answer. And so you might think that I’m being pedantic and perhaps a little harsh. Maybe. The fact is, this building sets itself up as THE centre for the written word and as such, I think it should have a bit more respect for how the written word is shown and how it is communicated, not just what it says.

Bad typography is everywhere, it certainly shouldn’t be here.

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