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AREA 2

2008 (p.360-363) Phaidon

100 Graphic Designers | 10 Curators | 10 Design Classics

Strange Attractors (The Hague/New York). --- With a deadline quickly approaching, the curators of ‘FiFFteen’ a traveling exhibition about the FontFont type library wanted something dynamic: an animated type specimen that would showcase as many FontFonts as possible. Now, there aren’t many studios willing to to touch so many typefaces at once, let alone able to come up with something that isn’t obvious or boring, so the curators called Strange Attractors. The result was ‘Little Yellow Writing Hood’, a weird and wonderful animated typographic fairytale that subsequently won the studio several awards. ---

Unlike many other designers interested only in conceptual experimentation, Catelijne van Middelkoop and Ryan Pescatore Frisk are positively in love with type. They met at Cranbrook Academy of Art, a school to which they were both attracted because of its reputation for celebrating originality, research and self-expression. Working together as Strange Attractors, the two designers seamlessly blend their different styles: van Middelkoop’s meticulously drawn lettering that combines historical letterforms with newly invented ornament; and Frisk’s theoretically informed layered design. It’s an unusual and multifaceted combination. In their work they seem to switch effortlessly between theory and pure play, hand drawing and digital wizardry, historical research and explorations of the ever-changing vernacular of the postmodern metropolis. ---

The outcome of these relentless investigations is diverse, and often surprisingly functional. Strange Attractors has created animations for all kinds of clients, from a Japanese DJ duo to an American real-estate company. The studio has designed websites, posters, and books for design-related clients, as well as identities for a health center and an art gallery. Van Middelkoop and Frisk also enjoy self-initiated projects that combine design, language, art, and education. One of these is ‘Broadcasting Tongues’; a series of events that examines local graphic vernacular. Their most impressive self-imposed project is ‘Big Type Says More’, a spectacular, seventeen-meter-long installation of letterforms hand-cut from cardboard, made for an exhibition at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam and subsequently acquired for its renowned permanent collection. Is it art? Is it design? It is one of those instances when the question doesn’t really need to be asked. --- 

(Jan Middendorp)

Links

AREA 2

Jan Middendorp

Little Yellow Writing Hood

Broadcasting Tongues

BIG TYPE SAYS MORE