I’ve been doing some sketching

Typography thoughts – developing on the word ‘proven’ and the material of concrete

So onwards and upwards with this project, I have built my concrete block!

Typo - Week 2 - 3 Typo - Week 2 - 4 IMG_0935 It took a week to set, but I’m happy with it!

And I’ve been thinking about how to bring the drama to this item. Because this block isn’t to communicate proof – this is for authority. This isn’t for the truth – it’s saying 2+2=5.

I love the use of light and shadow in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, and really want to build on this in photographing the block.

And I got some inspiration from Brutalism architecture at night:

Time to get cracking with some photography!

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Progress! Propaganda! Proven!

Typography thoughts – developing on the word ‘proven’ and the material of concrete

If you have the time, please watch this fascinating documentary Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodmindedness by Jonathan Meades. Although I heartily disagree with him, I was impacted by the context he set for brutalism and its followers’ motivation.

This quote stood out for me:

“The early modern movement in architecture took a different pat, different paths, but all led away from primitivism towards a fundamentalist trust in progress, trust so strong it was a faith.”

Ahhhh, it all makes sense now! Brutalism is founded in shouting ‘Progress!’ as loud as it can.

Also, something that interested me was the fact that the brutalist architecture being built in the 1960s, was conceptualised and developed by architects in the 1950s, and who were decidedly not of the 1960s new found pop and individualist culture. It makes sense to me then, that this style feels like an authoritarian stamp on the horizon. It is an older generation’s gift to the younger generation, screaming ‘Progress!’, when the younger generation is already not listening.

Which makes me think of another scream into the darkness of a similar era, and similar authoritarian decree. Propaganda.

I have no idea what these posters say, but what I read is Progress! And what I hear is Proven! We are Ahead, we are Winning!

I love the use of the exclamation point, all capitals, the minimal spacing between the letters.

This is it… this is the font for this project. Slightly rounded, to show modernism, yet strong and unapologetic. I wonder if I could even stylise the letters to reflect the Russian alphabet?

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Béton Brut

Typography thoughts – developing on the word ‘proven’ and the material of concrete

So what do I think of when I think of concrete? I think of Le Corbusier.

I think of Béton Brut: French for raw concrete.

Here are some beautiful examples of concrete imprinted by wooden molds.

But Béton Brut is the root word for Brutalism. And Brutalism isn’t a shining example of new concrete. It’s concrete with staining and soaked-in smog. It’s grey and black and bleak and bullying.

Ugh, even photographed on sunny days, these buildings just make me feel like they’re effing depressing monoliths!

Also I hate how this architecture is rooted in, just, crap idealism. Le Corbusier’s dream city “represented an utopian dream to reunite man within a well-ordered environment.”

Why do I have such strong reactions to this? Probably because I lived in a Soviet-style block in Singapore, and experienced the influence of this architecture on my daily life. Here are some thoughts I recorded at the time and a sketch of the building I lived in…

“It all started with Dave Chappell and a skit that referenced Good Times. An amazing 70s sitcom about an African-American family living in the projects, and a catch phrase of “Dyn-O-Mite!” – needless to say I got hooked. I wanted to understand more about the projects and these buildings. So starting with the Evan’s family abode – I read about Cabrini Green – an infamous project in Chicago. Reading about similar projects in England, Australia and even Communist Blocs, it reminded me of when I first moved to Block 166 in Singapore and my aghast horror at how ‘communist’ these buildings looked… I was having flashbacks to the outer ‘burbs of Prague and my budget backpacking! Stumbling onto this stunning site about high rise living around the world, I was amazed at the amount of crap panelák everywhere! And so inspired by the people coming to terms with living in a charmless concrete slab. If any conclusion can be made about modern architecture – it’s that Corbusier failedepically. Buildings, design and functional objects rarely dictate or change behaviour in people, it just hinders or emphasises what’s already inside us. I hope I never have to live in a high rise again – just like its shape is so unnatural, it really doesn’t feed a whole human being.”

Currently listening to: Nina Simone, Baltimore

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Word & Material – Proven & Concrete

Typography thoughts

I need to develop a graphic depiction of the word ‘proven’ using the material ‘concrete’ as a basis.

So… the word ‘proven’, what does it even mean:


verb (used with object), proved, proved or proven, proving.
to establish the truth or genuineness of, as by evidence or argument:
to prove one’s claim.


confirm, convince, demonstrate, determine, explain, find, justify, result, show, substantiate,  test, try

When I think of ‘proven’ I think of it as an adjective, and the usage that really sticks with me is a proven formula.

Concrete is a proven formula of cement, and sand, and aggregate, and water, and mixing, and pouring, and setting. Concrete can construct. Concrete can evidence. Concrete proves.

Concrete isn’t pretty. In fact, when I think of concrete, I often think of [shudder] Le Corbusier and those hideous monstrosities of public housing.

I love this quote from Dali that Corbusier’s “death filled me with an immense joy. Le Corbusier was a pitiable creature working in reinforced concrete.”

Just look at this church in Firminy. Cathedrals have that sense of elevation – of helping us to look up and transcend to to the spiritual realm. This concrete cathedral makes me think of death more than eternity.

So when I think of concrete, and what it proves… what has it proven?… well that it’s ugly, but effective.

It’s a proven formula.

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Baby Boom: How far we’ve come, or not

I saw Baby Boom, a 1987 film starring Diane Keaton, the other day, and I loved it (but yes, had to cringe through some bits). But I just had to share it with you, and how much I really wish it was a relic to our past work lives.

Firstly though, Diane Keaton (playing J.C. Wiatt) is my girl. Love, love, love her. Not so much love for shoulder pads though. RIP.

So have we really made some strides?

Okay, this scene is amazing – it’s J.C.’s boss hinting that she’s up for partnership, but that she’s going to have to make some sacrifices. And then he grills her on if she’s planning on getting married to her partner, because “what if he wants a wife?” And  then goes on to explain how he can have it all because he’s got a wife.

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How far have we come? We’ve come to the place where this is un-pc, but probably not unthought. And it’s certainly not unfelt by both of the sexes – just last night I was complaining about not having ‘a wife’ for myself. I mean, who doesn’t want free labour?!

And then Baby Boom! A baby arrives on the scene. The baby, Elizabeth, is so damn cute. But also reminds me of a baby James Corden.

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Alright, in this scene below, J.C. is doing some guilt shopping because she is seriously considering adopting out her surprise baby (from dead relatives). You know what is AMAZING about this scene? The toy store guy is totally goading on her guilt for his own benefit “You’ve done the right thing J.C. You’re going to be partner for Christ’s sake! Your career comes first.”

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How far have we come? Um…. not at all… Pretty sure most ads to mums prey on that guilt factor a lot of the time.

Next we have a heart breaker, when J.C. decides that she will keep Elizabeth, and her long-term partner tells that he “just, I can’t”. It’s a beautiful calm scene of two adults, who both knew what the price of admission was to their relationship, can understand that something has fundamentally shifted with a baby in the scene.

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And moving onto this scene where J.C. is getting used to the whole deal of working and being a mum. Shock! Horror! Her baby comes to work for one day! She assures her boss “I’m hiring a nanny tonight. She’ll never be in the office again.”

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How far have we come? Well thanks to technology, hopefully a lot of parents have options like working from home available to them, and when child care falls through, they have some flexibility. But no, it’s still a total mum-shamer to bring your kids to work.

M*therF!#@ker of a scene where J.C. is told she’s being taken of the big account that’s earning her partnership because “I mean, you’ve lost your concentration.” Then she’s told she’s going to be put on a dog food account so she’ll have “more time for her child” and when she looks like she’s been hit with a bus, she’s told “swallow your pride, J.C.” It’s brutal, but done by a boss who is caring for J.C.’s wellbeing, right?!

The news settles in for J.C. and she tells her boss “I can’t go out there now”, he replies “well you gotta do what you gotta do.” And just like that, J.C. is unemployed.

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How far have we come? Flexibility, job sharing, maternity leave… yay! Options! I think there has been some improvement, so that hopefully poor J.C. wouldn’t have to take a crap account or leave. But the fundamental attitude to employees who have to drop and run for a sick kid? I don’t think we’ve evolved past that yet.

Ok… so J.C. leaves (is forced out) her job, and decides to head to Vermont for a lovely country life with her baby. Except it’s not lovely. And she fast runs out of money because the charming country house is a lemon. And then she has a nervous breakdown, and screams at the poor plumber “I need to work!!!!” Amen sister.

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And what do you you know – J.C. becomes a mumpreneur after stumbling into a niche market for gourmet baby food.

Ohhhh yes, that’s right, because if you can’t stand the work world, the next best thing is to make your own job. Also, I love that her business is the 80’s equivalent to an internet company – it’s a catalogue business.

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How far have we come? What bummed me out about this story line, is that it’s such an unrealistic play out of what happens for mumpreneurs. J.C. has the killer advantage of being a management consultant before building her business, but not all people have that experience backing them. In fact, a lot of mumpreneurs are at serious risk of falling into poverty in retirement because their businesses don’t make enough to make retirement savings. I don’t think we’ve moved forward at all.

Anddddddd then J.C. gets an amazing buy out off, co-ordinated by those schmucks that she used to work for!!! BOOM! She strutted in that place like a gangsta!

(Also, I love the irony of how poorly she would have been treated if she just ‘swallowed her pride’ and took the dog food account.)

But J.C. decides not to take the million-dollar offer, because “I mean, I have a crib in my office, and a mobile over my desk, and I like that. Well I don’t wanna make those sacrifices. And the bottom line is nobody should have to.”

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How far have we come? Well I think there’s some movement in the fact that it’s not just a women’s issue now, and people are starting to talk more about how this affects men. But I don’t know about you, I look up that ladder and see those people working incredibly long hours, and think ‘no thank you’.

End of the story is that J.C. ends up going back to Vermont to live a lovely country life with her new veterinarian boyfriend. Good for her!

And now we can go back to our modern lives in 2016, with far less shoulder-paddage.

But is it really that different?!

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