New Aesthetic 2: Curating A Playground of Independent Type Design

Stemming from Leonhard Laupichler’s thesis project, New Aesthetic collects, curates and classifies independent type and typography in a way that’s never really been seen before. After the incredible success that was the first edition of New Aesthetic, Leonhard Laupichler and Sophia Brinkgerd have joined forces again to produce New Aesthetic 2; a further developed book curating some of the most radical and exciting independent type out there today, published in partnership with Sorry Press

New Aesthetic 2 Spread
New Aesthetic 2 Spread

Challenging typography as both a ‘tool in reading culture and in its functional shape’, New Aesthetic 2 interrogates letterforms as useful, functional tools as well as artefacts of minds and cultures…it stands back and dedicates space to observe letterforms as works of art. ‘Designing on a molecular basis, questioning the smallest unit of design, we can reinterpret what typography means. Can it be a keepsake from a creative odyssey, a teacher, or simply just an ephemeral servant? “New Aesthetic” challenges typography as a tool in reading culture and in its functional shape—more so seeing letters in their individual appearance as artworks of their own’, Sophia muses.

New Aesthetic 2 Spread
New Aesthetic 2 Spread

And so, at the core of New Aesthetic 2’s investigation lies this: ‘Human language shows itself in so many artefacts of visual expression. Letters, hieroglyphs, runes and icons—written language can work in many ways. Typography as we understand it today can serve us as a universal, reliable and longevous tool. What if we saw it as a playground?’

New Aesthetic 2 Spread

Following these lines, New Aesthetic 2 moves away from the focus on polished, technical perfectionism and looks to the humanity and craft of independent typography. In situating New Aesthetic within the realm of independent type, the publication seeks to explore a design culture which ‘doesn’t seek competition’, nor ‘utter perfection’. Instead, New Aesthetic 2 serves as a space cultivated to become the playground of design its creators wish to see – as Leonhard and Sophia note, independent typography ‘tells stories of formal exploration and creates an expressive form of art in itself’. 

New Aesthetic 2 Spread
New Aesthetic 2 Spread

‘“New Aesthetic” wants to acknowledge creative processes and see the stories behind them, as well as encourage designers to keep an open attitude towards new forms, styles and systems. There is potential in blurring and obfuscating the lines of legibility and practicality, pushing the boundaries of emotional expressiveness and allowing for unusual approaches in modern graphic design. “New Aesthetic” considers type design as an opportunity to create art: looking at type design with a benevolence to experiments and processes, and finding potential in the unusual, that might point us into a new future of practicing visual communication’, the pair continue. 

New Aesthetic 2 Spread

Through using Instagram as a main research tool, Sophia and Leonhard were able to locate designers working in an abundance of styes and exploring a breadth of deep, investigative concepts. ‘We wanted to invite designers from different backgrounds, with different levels of experience, include a variation of styles and shapes in order to achieve a harmonious and diverse collection of many facets of what typography can be’, the duo tell us. ‘The big equalizer in this project was probably the power to express something emotionally and visually that all typefaces in New Aesthetic 2 have.’

New Aesthetic 2 Spread

Acknowledging the eurocentricity still prevalent in the type industry today, Leonhard and Sophia explain that one of their hopes for New Aesthetic 3 – a goal they say is definitely on the cards – is that it will bring together more international type designers, and hopefully broaden their horizons to explore an abundance of different writing systems. ‘We would love to see New Aesthetic available as a series soon’, they add.

New Aesthetic 2 Spread

This playground of independent type is such a valuable resource and artefact of the kind of work we love to see…no doubt, it’ll form a vastly important reference for the future of independent typography, too. Let’s hope New Aesthetic can continue to grow & celebrate the joys of independent typography – big thanks to Leonhard and Sophia for sharing their words on the project with us. New Aesthetic 2 is out now.

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