Investigating the intriguing, unusual and obscure

Much of what we are seeking to publish is driven by research into the design and social history of our surroundings, and in particular the rich history of the city of Lancaster. Two recent, and interconnected projects, have looked at the often forgotten design features of the urban environment – that of architectural lettering and the physical shape of the the city.

Each of these projects is about developing an awareness and an appreciation of the rich historical and design heritage of the spaces we inhabit. City of Letters resulted in our first publication – A Lancaster Alphabet, and others based around this work will follow. In addition there is Shape of the City and Sum of the Parts, which look at how design can be found in unexpected places and through accidental occurrences, with both being accompanied by a publication and a range of merchandise that will shortly be available from our online Shop.

Sum of the Parts

While researching Lancaster’s architectural letterforms I began to investigate how these features could be reused or reappraised and how they might appear or relate to each other if considered in some sort of chronological order. With so many examples to choose from and twenty-four letter options to work with, I chose just the serifs and decided to look initially at the letters found in the word ‘Lancaster’.

Shape of the City

Urban environments are full of hidden design. It can be found in the form of the architecture, cut into the fabric of the buildings, written as letters on stonework, or seen in the layout of the streets themselves. These, and numerous other intended or accidental features, are the component parts of the aesthetic of a place. This is the shape of the city.

City of Letters

The next time you venture into Lancaster, as you walk along the streets fronted with Victorian shops and Georgian townhouses, look up. Stop, step back and look up. Sitting unseen and largely unknown on the walls of these buildings are a host of architectural secrets that reveal much of the city’s history. There is a multitude of architectural lettering inscribed or set in relief into the stone faces of the buildings.

These new letterforms are the ephemeral, infinitely variable and ghostly progeny of the static lithographs found in the city.

Sum of the Parts