Saturday, April 24, 2010

Typographic Style and Class in Sioux Center, Iowa

Teacher, poet, and storyteller, the late Stanley M. Wiersma once said, humorously, that in Sioux County, Iowa, Orange City had style and Sioux Center had class. Or was it the other way around?

Anyway the letterforms on the Chamber of Commerce building, formerly the Sioux Center State Bank, does display a sense of style (and class). The extra, upper case, letter spacing certainly produces elegance. This photograph indicates the congruent appearance of the classical capital letterforms with the other façade elements. Actually, the concise letter spacing is dictated by the space that it needs to fill. Furthermore, the architectural elements of the half balusters form a regular rhythmical pattern on the parapet, which harmonizes with the incised letters.

As a side, this particular architectural style is the American Midwestern version of Beaux-Arts. In addition to having nineteenth century appeal Beaux-Arts was also a classic idiom popular, after World War I, in the early 1920s. The Beaux-Arts style was thought to characterize the common good virtues of order, dignity, and harmony.

Willi Kuntz believes, viewing letters like these serves as a teaching instrument by asking the following:
These kinds of questions are at the core of a typographic work. They show how a seemingly simple message can be deconstructed to reveal the numerous decisions that together affect the meaning and emotional tone of the communication.
While referencing the photograph above and gaining important insight for design — lets consider these questions by Kuntz:
Which of these words is most important?
Why are they arranged in this particular sequence?
How many letters are in each word?
What is the ratio between the numbers of letters in each word?
What is the total number of letters?
How many rectilinear, triangular, and curvilinear letters are in each word?
What is the typeface?
How tall are the letters?
How does the case contribute to the appearance?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the editor has approved them.