This project explores the etymology of the word Utopia and how the world has dealt with the notion of Utopia.  Thomas More, who coined the term in 1516 in a book he wrote of the same name, highlighted the duality between the ideal and the real: a neologism word from Greek roots, “utopia” resonates with two ideas: “eutopia,” a good or happy place, and “outopia,” no place. Which is what led me to the title; “No Place Good Place.”

My aim was to create an outcome for a non-existent place and the challenge was, what does that look like? The duality I mentioned above is what inspired the concept and typographic treatment of all the outcomes, Akzidenz-Grotesk represents No Place as it an unadorned and functional sans serif, the idea behind its use referencing modernist Utopian thinking. Big Caslon was chosen to represent Good Place, as it is bold and confident with beautiful typographic detailing. The typefaces are mixed together for titles and headings to convey the duality of the word Utopia, throughout each text both typefaces can been seen in the body. All the type sizes come from the Fibonacci sequence, the perfect (utopian) ratio of numbers.

From this, the finished product became multiple outcomes, all related to each other in different ways and sitting together harmoniously in a handcrafted box. The unboxing should be treated like a ceremony, revealing a typographic flag and underneath it four books. Together four books work to inform the reader about different aspects of the word Utopia; Etymology, Fallacy, Architectural Attempts and HopeEtymology traces the origins of the word, how we understand it today and it is often realised through architecture, Fallacy explores why utopian projects have generally failed in our society and why we return again and again to the idea. Architectural Attempts is a book of three case studies that show the utopian thinking behind the projects and why they failed and why they were necessary, the main body of text in this book is justified and treated in a structural way, just like that of a building. The final book Hope looks at why we need the idea of utopia and how it still relevant to us in the current state of society. The final piece is the typographic flag, the content for this comes from the first chapter of More’s book, the flag is unlike the ones we are accustomed to, making it perfect to represent “No Place.”

The colours of each outcome lean heavily on the meaning associated with those colours, red and black represent negativity, while white and yellow represent hope and joy. The colour just like the typography uses the duality the communicate that it is both No Place and Good Place at the same time. The white square on the flag and the shape of the box represent “No Place”, it acts as a visual metaphor for the void that Utopia leaves and its deeply unattainable nature. 

This project awarded me membership to the ISTD in April 2018.

Year: 2018
Client: ISTD

Discipline: Art Direction, Research & Typography