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Letterform Variations is a playful study into letterform construction using basic grid and shape based systems, and its potential to generate vast amounts of varying alphabetical outcomes. Letterform Variations is the product of Nigel Cottier’s methodology for developing letterforms that are based partly on visual transformations generated by algorithmic functions, such as constraints, rules, grids, and modules, and partly on designerly judgements about composition, balance and visual dynamics. Cottier’s modular systems are built within expansive design spaces that facilitate the production of an almost infinite range of outputs, but what distinguishes them is the considered choices he makes subsequently, categorizing, and editing his results as competent and handsome representations of alphabetic forms. This connection between impartial geometric shapes and the alphabetic code brings to mind Paul Elliman’s contention that the boundaries between typography, typology and topography are never distinct.
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