Earlier this week the Google logo underwent an adjustment. The bottom of the l and e didn’t quite line up, so to fix it, the g was moved one pixel to the right and the l was moved one pixel down and to the right. The change is almost imperceptible—much more subtle than my rough mock-up shows—but the spacing was altered to allow the logo to appear more evenly positioned on small screens. Despite the fact that Google didn’t publicise the change it seems to have received an inordinate amount of publicity! The current Google logo has been in use since September 2013 and was designed by Ruth Kedar. It utilises the font Catull, an oldstyle serif designed for the Berthold Type Foundry in 1982 by Gustav Jaeger.
The letter E
The letter E is the fifth letter and second vowel in the Latin alphabet, and is by far the most commonly used letter, not only in English, but in many other languages, including French, German, Spanish, Czech, Danish and Norwegian. Over time, the direction of reading E has changed. The Phoenician letter HE represented a man with arms raised to the sky. The Etruscans turned it anticlockwise so the stem was on the right, then it was turned again to become the present-day E, with the stem on the left. E represents about fifteen sounds (here, there, everywhere and more!) and has many symbolic meanings—Energy, East, Ecstasy, electron, a musical note, and more recently, e for electronic.
These magnificent birds loom large on the roadside about half way between Geelong and Ballarat, overseeing the entrance to a free-range egg farm. The egg farm prides itself on its humane practices and healthy birds, and if the chooks are anywhere near as jolly as their giant metal guardians appear to be, then they are happy chooks indeed. The surrounding landscape is scrubby and flat, which makes the metal sculptures—there are three of them—an even more arresting sight to behold.
I used to think that carrots were orange, but it seems that orange carrots are a relative newcomer to the vegetable scene. The first cultivated carrots were purple and yellow, followed by white and red varieties. The orange carrot became popular in the Netherlands several hundred years later—according to one story, it was a mutant, bred to honour the Dutch House of Orange. I was thrilled to discover that there is an online carrot museum, which, as well as the history and recipes you might expect, features carrot collectibles, carrot artwork and—my favourite—musical instruments made from carrots. When my friends and I drove through Bannockburn, Victoria, a couple of weeks ago, we stopped at a farmers market and saw this colourful array, and bought some for dinner.
It was a drizzly grey Sunday. We weren’t the only ones who thought pizza and beer sounded like a good idea, and although the car park wasn’t completely full, we did have to park in the ‘very far’ area. Helvetica can be badly used and overused, but it can also be a well-chosen and appropriate typeface. Here, Helvetica Bold Condensed is condensed more, letter-spaced, and treated to complement the timber boards on which it is painted. The letter shapes retain excellent legibility even when manipulated, and needless to say, we had no trouble finding the car when it was time to go home.
This is not the sort of warning you see every day. The novelty of the message caught my attention and tickled my funny bone, but the same words printed more formally in, say, Franklin Gothic or Times New Roman, would change the tone completely. Handwritten in chalk, framed with uneven knocked together old timber, and the serious message that parents need to watch their kids in the play area is delivered in exceedingly good spirit. The message is not the full picture though: the choice of blackboard and frame is obviously well thought out to fit in with a design aesthetic, as is the placement on the background of scarred and scrawled-on brickwork which has been left in its original state.
There’s a shop in Queenscliff, Victoria, that has an enticing walk-through entrance full of overgrown plants in aged moss-covered terracotta pots. It’s the kind of courtyard garden I would love to be able to cultivate, but lack the particular type of green thumb that allows selective neglect to metamorphose into a harmonious, established mess of leaves. The courtyard walls are covered in ivy that has extended around the corner to take over this apartment block, transforming the very ordinary bricks and signage. I particularly like the way the letters appear to be emerging from their camouflage.
Mechanics’ Institutes, established in Scotland in 1821, were formed to provide education in technical subjects to working men. They also housed libraries which aimed to provide an alternative pastime to gambling and drinking. The first Australian Mechanics’ Institute opened in Hobart in 1827, followed by the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts in 1833. In Victoria, more than 1200 Mechanics’ Institutes were built, including this one in Leongatha, which operated until 1982 and played an important role in the development of the local community. The building itself, containing a Public Reading Room, Members’ Room and Billiard Room, is notable for the construction of the walls, which are made from river weeds covered in plaster, a technique unique to the area. Also notable is the sign, the individual letters full of life and character.
Tender means gentle and concerned or sympathetic. To tender is to offer or present something formally. I can’t make up my mind which I’d like this to be. Is the pictograph around the mailbox meant to be a kindly and welcoming smile, or merely a way to draw attention to the slot in which the tender expressions should be posted?
This caught my eye because it is an unusual choice of colours to paint a building—particularly that shade of green, exactly the colour of the pistachio gelato from my local cafe—but I also liked those thin stark shadows from the awning supports and dangling wire, the black-edged shape against the clear sky, and the antenna and pipe sticking up in a way that, despite them being kind of out of place, make the facade more interesting.