Eames Century Modern is a font family of eighteen weights from House Industries. It is a slab serif with smooth brackets, a style known as Clarendon but also sometimes referred to as Ionic. The family contains stencil, bold, regular, book, light and thin weights. It is a beautiful typeface, but what really catches my eye and makes it a standout are the extras, particularly Eames Frames, which I like just for their own sake.
In my working life I prefer to work in the comfort and familiarity of my own office (and have been lucky enough to be able to do so), but during the last few months one of my favourite clients has required my presence in-house for a particular project. I like it more than I thought I would, and while it is kind of a disruption to my usual work routine, there are some definite pluses: like birthday cake and a cheery bit of singing in the middle of the afternoon! And I like the view from the bus. My short commute along Parramatta Road gives me the opportunity to admire the impressive turn-of-the-century facades along that noisy, dirty and faded—but once glorious—thoroughfare. Oh, and inside the bus is interesting too, especially on overcast days when the reflections are intensified.
Jonathan Cainer, the well-known, ‘spookily accurate’ astrologer, died earlier this week at the very young age of 58. They say he didn’t predict his own death: in fact, in the days prior, he talked about an unprecedented number of celebrity deaths so far this year, and how an ethical astrologer would not predict the date or cause of anyone’s demise, not least because of the risk of the self-fulfilling prophecy. His own Sagittarius forecast for the day began: ‘We aren’t here for long. We should make the most of every moment.’ I was saddened to hear of his death. He had a particular way with words that, even if you thought it was bunkum, had the ability to shed a different light on your day and to open the way to choose the higher road. I first came across Cainer when I had a contract in a publishing house many years ago. The editors started it, the designers joined in: someone would do the coffee run and while we waited, we’d check our horoscopes online, all gathered around one computer while everyone’s forecast was read aloud. This symbol for Sagittarius the Archer is from the Frutiger Symbols Negativ character set: I think it is apt that you don’t immediately make out the obvious.
I like this gathering of green and yellow cables: the neat row of screws, the tidy cable groupings, the curves that make it look like some eighteen-tentacled alien creature (with an added thick tail for balance). While I know that printing onto surfaces other than paper is nothing new, it still amazes me that the information printed onto the plastic is so legible. The colour palette of green and yellow, complemented by the various grey and silver tones of the metal elements, with a highlight of reflective orange from an adjacent metal cabinet, transforms a functional bit of wiring into an industrial sculpture.
The funny thing about rust is sometimes you take every measure to get rid of it, and other times you can appreciate it’s qualities. I once had an old car which I thought I’d better clean before taking it for its rego check. In doing so I discovered that the water in the back foot well wasn’t actually in the car, but on the road, which I could see through the rusted out hole! Needless to say, that rust was not working in my favour. But rust in a different context takes on a whole other complexion. Like these rusty rails, that are full of character and visual appeal.
Gill Sans cheese
A food theme seems to have emerged over the last week or so, and here’s another one to add to the mix. This French cheese tasted amazing, and before we even cut into it, there was a collective oooh aaah of admiration from the half a dozen diners at the table. No one batted an eyelid at the idea that someone wanted to photograph it, but I think it was only me that saw an embossed Gill Sans M.
They say it never rains but it pours, and although it’s a phrase not necessarily intended to describe actual weather, it certainly applies to the pattern of rainfall in Sydney. Two days ago I planted a small shrub to fill a hole in a garden that is suffering extreme dryness, and within a few hours it started bucketing down so heavily that I couldn’t hear myself think for the sound of rain on the tin roof. It has been relentless, and now everything is damp and soggy. I love the rain, and I love the way it transforms the world around me so that transitory patterns emerge, like this stand of lights reflected in a puddle on tarmac.
I don’t have much interest in the Easter Show amusement park rides or show bags (although the rides have some good names: elephant jet, jurassic coaster, XXXL, alien abduction, hangover, rockin’ tug), but I am fascinated by the agricultural exhibits. Not just the look of them, but the behind-the-scenes stories. This pumpkin weighs more than five people! How did it get from wherever it grew to its display position inside the pavilion? How was it weighed? Is it edible, and what happens to it later this week when the Show ends? Did this one win because it was the biggest, or are other factors taken into account? I like its sculptural qualities and multicoloured, textured skin, and the no-fuss way its weight is recorded by writing on it with blue texta.
It has been raining and raining and raining and raining. The sky seems permanently grey, the air is damp and the ground is soggy. On rainy days traffic doubles, washing stays wet on the line, and I can’t watch Spicks and Specks because ABC reception drops out. And there are no shadows. But one day, when the sun comes out again, shadows—like the one cast by this quirky, rusting, painted metal lettering and the shrub that half conceals it—will reappear, and the sky will be blue again.
What first attracted me to this was the patterns and shadows of the concertina grille and the colour palette of blues and greys. It made me think that for once, the typography wasn’t primary, but then when I viewed it without the letters it lost a certain je ne sais quoi, and I revised my opinion! The typeface is Gill Sans.