Abbey Barlow AB3D

  • Tauira / Student
    Abbey Barlow
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Katie Kerr, George Hajian

During my university time, I noticed much of the typography and type design being produced was situated in a 2D space. I felt this was a missed opportunity for some typefaces, as many letters have an architectural feel that lends them a quality which can make them look fantastic in 3d. This became my starting point for my capstone project AB3D.
The project started as an opportunity to create typefaces in 3D. I looked into creating my own typefaces or the option of using existing ones that I could expand on! This led me to discover prolific Samoan New Zealand type designer Joseph Churchward. I felt that his work was not appreciated by younger designers in NZ, and could be the perfect candidate for a 3D transformation.
I selected three very visually sculptural Churchward typefaces, Blackbeauty, Design 70 Lines and Roundsquare. Along with 3D-ifying the typefaces, I wanted to create a way for these 3D pieces to be displayed, as these typefaces are a piece of New Zealand's design history. I also wanted to complement the project with some form of a publication, showing the process of how each of these typefaces was brought to life.
The final outcome of the project was three 3D typefaces, presenting quotes from Churchward, with three custom made display cases and accompanying booklets detailing the process. For the displays and booklets I drew inspiration from design trends and materials featured in museums and art galleries to make sure the 3D type was the main focus.
Designed in 1972, ‘Blackbeauty’ was a soft-letter, psychedelic typeface. I looked into the popular product materials during that time which were mostly plastics and resins and consequently decided to use semi-translucent resin to make this typeface in 3D. To get to my final piece, I used processes of digital modelling, CNC machining, mould making, then sanding and polishing. 
‘Roundsquare’ is a typeface based on the Wellington Park Mews apartments built in 1973. I used white clay to create this typeface to reflect the look of the apartments with the four accent colours of the building incorporated by glass slumping. I used the clay to emulate movable type blocks as a nod to original 3D movable type pieces from China, giving the typeface a brick-like stackability.
‘Design 70 Lines’ created in 1970, has Bauhaus influences as well as a disco neon light feel. Many processes were experimented with to create this 3D typeface including metal casting, 3D printing and silicon mould making. This led to producing the set of spray-painted and laser-engraved acrylic pieces. Acrylic was ultimately chosen as it was a very popular material in the ‘70s due to its ability to create clean lines, which can be seen in this typeface. 
The cases were made from laser-cut acrylic and suede-covered foam, constructed to highlight each typeface's different 3d aspects. In particular ‘Blackbeauty’s’ case features a built-in Lightbox to make the translucent letters glow in the dark.