October 16, 2008
True Blue Sky Thinking

Where everyone else saw only buildings overhead, one innovator saw a new font.

Lisa Reinermann, a University of Duisburg student, had this Aha! insight while exploring the narrow streets of Barcelona.

Suppose you were Lisa. How would you notice the font-ness of sky-shapes contained by rooflines? First, ignore size. Don't let the fact that fonts are small but these sky-shapes are building-sized distract you from the visual reality. (Lisa's camera probably helped her flatten, rescale and reframe her perception.) Second, reverse figure and ground. Make the usual background (the sky) the foreground and the usual foreground (the closer buildings) background. Role reversals are common in many innovations. Weaknesses (like inferior glue) often reframe as strengths and become the breakthroughs (Post-It Notes) of the future.

To Lisa's credit, once she had her breakthrough she stuck with it, searching, walking and neck-craning to find other locations to complete every letter in the alphabet. Her photo-typographic alphabet is now a font set published by German Type Foundry Slanted called Type The Sky. The collection comes as a type face and a photo book.

Posted by Tim Moore at October 16, 2008 03:28 PM


Fascinating! Wow! Many dimensions to this. One interesting anecdote from the past that may interest you... speaking of roofs (and why isn't it "rooves"?) I once did some brainstorm facilitation for a large roofing conglomerate. They came up with the idea for doing infrared satellite photos of commercial roofs in the U.S. By so doing, they could show prospective clients where the "hot spots" were in their roof and project how long it would be before the roof would majorly deteriorate and need repair. They were entering the "ounce of prevention" business and had high tech photos to make their point. I don't think they actually went all the way with this, but I loved the concept and your BLUE SKY piece reminded me of it. One degree of separation.

Posted by: Mitch Ditkoff at September 3, 2007 11:12 PM

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