In this paper, we are interested in how city fonts, as part of place-making practices, work to sustain social difference and cohesion, and we examine the ideologies that resonate both in their graphic form and in the design and promotional discourses that surround them. How are these fonts, and typographic forms in general linked to place? 'Place' is then seen as an eminently social construct, linking and ascribing cultural, historical and political qualities to a specific geographic locale (Warnaby & Medway 2013). We are particularly interested in the ways in which politics is conditioning and being articulated in discursively mediated processes of linking type to place. What ‘graphic ideologies’ (Spitzmüller 2015) are invested in the city fonts and in the discursive and material place-making that they are being engaged in? In order to pursue this aim and answer the questions, we build on the increasing body of work in sociolinguistics, social semiotics and critical (type) design studies that conceptualize typography as a social practice and semiotic technology closely linked to ideology. The paper focuses on two city fonts: TilburgsAns by Sander Neijnens and Ivo van Leeuwen (2016) and Dubai Font by a Monotype team led by Nadine Chahine (2017). The two fonts are different in a number of ways and illustrate the complexities of typographic place-making and branding.
Johan Järlehed is a researcher and teacher at the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. His research centres on the interaction of language, images and space in processes of social change. To investigate this, Johan works primarily with social-semiotic, discourse-analytic and ethnographic concepts and methods.
Maryam Fanni is a graphic designer based in Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden. PhD student at HDK Academy of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg. Co-founder and member of collectives MMS, SIFAV and Mapping the Unjust City.
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