Alphabets: A Miscellany of Letters by David Sacks
By Maria Popova
It’s no secret we’re obsessed with alphabet books. But a new book by David Sacks offers much more depth than the designerly eye candy the genre lends itself to.
Alphabets: A Miscellany of Letters is an ambitious exploration of the pervasiveness of letters in everyday life, tracing our visual vocabulary to its roots in Egyptian hieroglyphs, Kanji characters and other ancient alphabets with rich illustrations, beautiful graphic design and typography, found objects, graffiti and more.
Sacks explores the persona of each of the 26 letters of the alphabet, treating it as a separate symbol with its own design history and cultural legacy. It’s interesting to consider letters outside the context of text and words — suddenly, they come to life as conceptual creations that carry a powerful and complex aesthetic, symbolic and interpretational charge.
And for a special tickle of our appetite for creative derivatives of the London Tube map, this gem:
From Braille to the Morse code to Muji alphabet ice cube moulds, Alphabets covers an astounding range of linguistic symbolism, giving the nostalgically familiar alphabet book of our childhoods an adult upgrade with remarkable design sophistication and aesthetic sensibility.
Images courtesy of The Guardian
Published November 17, 2010