A hardware store in Copacabana.
Love is a strong word, but I’ll admit I have a fondness for them. In truth, I grew up in Rio and I can’t say I ever paid much attention to this kind of acrylic signs. Now, having lived in London for almost a decade, whenever I visit I stay with family in an upper-class neighbourhood where they hardly exist. A few days ago I went to the grittier neighbourhood of Copacabana and had an almost Proustian experience as I found myself surrounded by these old signs; with their cheap plastic appearance and soft edges, they formed the typographic landscape of my childhood. Although I can’t say they are exactly beautiful, I suddenly found them oddly charming. They were the letterforms of local popular commerce in 1980s Rio, the letterforms of hardware stores, florists, barbers and fishmongers, cheap-looking and anonymous, often considered ugly and vulgar. Today they are slowly disappearing, and the city doesn’t mourn the loss.
I decided to write my love letter to them, in spite of all the mixed feelings about their aesthetic value, and tried to find out more. I daydreamed about finding an old factory with stacks of old acrylic letters in different styles, dusty and forgotten…
I’ve long loved the vintage femininity of mid-century European fashion. The silhouettes, the careful accessorizing, and most importantly, the thousand-yard glare beaming from a heavily-lined eye have always been an inspiration to me. An old friend of mine peddles these gorgeous pieces most weekends at the Brooklyn Flea, and one weekend, she brought a stack of these Italian Fashion magazines from the 50s. This one, Eva, is from 1951 and features a scripty lettering that perfectly matches the clothing’s aesthetic: custom, curvy, sharp and stabby at just the right points.
The cover features a few different lettering styles, but what mostly grabbed my attention was the script. It’s used throughout the issue, and creates a nice ‘voice’ for many of the headlines.
I stamped a love letter for you and I can still smell the ink on my fingers.
“I love you more than my own skin and even though you don’t love me the same way, you love me anyways, don’t you? And if you don’t, I’ll always have the hope that you do, and i’m satisfied with that. Love me a little. I adore you.”
― Frida Kahlo
After graduating from the MA in Typeface Design at the University of Reading, I decided to buy myself a present: all the seven issues of Pagina.
Pagina is an international graphic design magazine, published from 1962 until 1966 in Milan by Editoriale Metro S.p.A, with quarterly (but very irregular) releases. Each of the seven issues was published in Italian, French and English, the layout was designed by Heinz Will while the covers were handled by different designers. The articles inside the magazine included authors such as Leo Lionni, Armando Testa, Bruno Munari, Saul Bass and Albe Steiner (just to mention a few).
The first three issues of Pagina (November 1962, June 1963, October 1963).
The cover for the second issue was designed by Bob Noorda and for the third issue by Pino Tovaglia.
Pagina 4, 6 and 7 (January 1964, January 1965, April 1966). Pagina 6 is a special issue entirely dedicated to Italy. and Pagina 7 is dedicated to Giambattista Bodoni. The covers are respectively by Max Bill, who also designed the typeface on the cover, Giancarlo Iliprandi, and Franco Maria Ricci.
As the renowned Louise Fili has said, “everything looks better on a tin”. Amongst all the little advertising items I collect, little tins are probably one of my favorites. It seems that nearly everything was packaged in these sturdy little boxes at one point, from laxatives to typewriter ribbons.
From the left: laxative, moth-deterrent, and two typewriter ribbons
I have loved the crackling and whispering of the wrapping papers of oranges since my childhood in the sixties. This is also the reason why I am not a professional collector of these papers. I want to hold them in my hands, not only to look at the broad variety of graphic treasures, but also to listen to them.
Valentine’s Day. The day of love, lust, and crushes. Maybe the first time you saw the object of your affection was across a room, at a party or a bar or on the street. Your heartbeat quickened, your palms began to get slippery, your mouth went dry … because you were in the presence of something that spoke to you, that you felt a chemical connection with, something that made you feel understood and less alone in the world. Well, that’s how I feel when I find a piece of beautiful printed type.
When you visit a flea market, there is great furniture, handmade wares, and delicious street food … and then there are the antique booths. If you’re anything like me, the paper ephemera portion of these booths create the same effect as if I was to see David Beckham across the room. Once upon a time, when I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I visited the Brooklyn Flea just to encounter such a corner of such a booth. I can’t remember exactly how the conversation began as my memory isn’t what it used to be, but I ended up in a deep conversation with the owner of the booth about some copies of Avant Garde magazine she had for sale.
Shortly after my arrival in Hong Kong in the year 2010, I visited the Hong Kong Art Fair. As the name indicates, it is a commercial event, a trade fair, selling and buying art. Towards the end of walking aisle after aisle through the fair, I found myself in front of a large-sized calligraphy by the internationally acknowledged Japanese calligrapher Inoue Yuichi. My heartbeat changed, rising, and on that very same day, I decided to take calligraphy lessons.
Inoue Yuichi, 龍 (dragon), 1960. 130,5 x 180 cm
Well, this is not the first time that I publicly declare my love for this amazing piece designed by Bram de Does, but I insist on advertising it since I do believe more people should be aware of this part of his work, beyond Trinité and Lexicon.
I was not one of those stamp collector kids that inherit the hobby from their grandparents. I started collecting stamps (as well as riding a bike) while studying Graphic Design in Portugal.
Where I grew up there weren’t a lot of antiques fairs, at least I don’t recall going to any. While studying at University in Caldas da Rainha there was an antiques fair at the city park every second Sunday of the month, and it was there I came across this affordable hobby.
Some of the first stamps I bought.
From left to right stamps by: Heinz Schillinger (2), Hatem El Mekhi, Willem Henri Lucas, Anthon Beeke and Otto Treumann (2)