Postmodernism's New Typography

In an act of rebellion against the prevailing Sans serif aesthetic, designers looked to celebrate creativity in their digital fonts

Fox River Promotion Booklet, 2006
Designed by Marian Bantjes (Canadian, b. 1963)
Booklet designed by Rick Valicenti (American, b. 1951) and Gina Garza (American, b. 1979) (Matt Flynn)

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HorseProjectSpace Presents: Ritual Tendencies (2007), the most recent work in the Cooper-Hewitt installation, represents a camp of more “machine oriented” designers. The poster pointedly obscures words in a sharp geometric design that resembles jagged crystal. The words meld into its crags, their meanings eclipsed by the poster’s dynamism.

Davidson believes that no matter what, “Typography conveys meaning. The kinds of letters that you use say something about what you’re trying to project. They can portray hipness, they can portray authority, they can convey playfulness, they can convey power.”

“Of course,” says Davidson, “the early modernists thought that they were being objective in their pairing down of the type so that it looked neutral, but in fact it wasn’t. It was an expression of modernists.” Today’s digital typography, she says, is a response to the fallacy of objective design. At its core, she says, the movement—aided largely by the world of possibilities that digital technology affords—celebrates rather than restricts the designer.


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