Design company – UK
In the UK, Type Design was known as Seven Elephants. We wanted to build our name to show our skills in hand-finished typography.
Seven Elephants symbolise wealth and prosperity in a number of Asian cultures. We needed a brand that reflected the elephants we were named after, with a modern, creative edge.
To give ourselves a sympathetic feel for elephant shapes, we began by making a family of seven model elephants ranging from 5 to 12 cm tall. We found that a simplified form, with just holes for eyes and storybook floppy ears, but clear features such as a noticeable spine, made them appear friendly but also lifelike. This gave us several ideas to take into the type.
In a pencil sketch, we melded the elephant shapes into typographical elements drawn from psychedelic 70s poster art, evoking the timelessness of the past’s image of the future.
We then set about building the letters with the same particle clay we used for the model elephants. This material can be easily manipulated, drilled into, sanded, painted and fabricated with other inclusions.
A unique feature of the three-dimensional design is the ability to interlock letters, suggesting a group of elephants travelling in convoy, trunk to tail.
The letters are free elements that can be arranged on a shaped wooden outline or used separately. Painted and repainted, placed on different real life or digital settings, they show the brand’s coherency as well as its flexibility in meeting the needs of vastly different clients.
The elephant family has come in handy for storyboarding. Made using wood and screw foundations, the figures are durable enough for clients to hold and pass around. People also tend to rearrange the letters into anagrams. Type Design can also create a complete alphabet, adding magnets or velcro to invite creative interpretations.
Hand-finished typography has few limits – we’ve included examples of the letters used in different contexts to show their myriad applications.