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December 07, 2010

Use fewer words - or less ink?


From drinking bottled water, to a single search on Google: even the most innocuous action seems to have a dire consequence for the planet somewhere down the line.

A new example, to me at least, concerns typefaces; the way a typeface is designed determines how much ink is needed when it's put to use - and some kinds of printers' ink turn out, on close examination, to be toxic as hell. Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), heavy metal content, and carcinogenic ingredients, are a major problem.

Various projects to develop environmentally friendly and non-toxic printers' ink are underway - but I, for one, will think twice in future before inhaling the smell of a freshly-printed book.

But smart sustainable design always heads upstream - and so it was with last weekend's workshop in Treviso on how to make typography sustainable run by Henriette Kruse Jørgensen and Alex Saumier Demers of Fabrica. The challenge to participants was to create a font family that could be reused and printed on recycled newspaper. After just two days, they came up with alphabets of different style using just three simple shapes.

Posted by John Thackara at December 7, 2010 06:44 AM


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