斜體的故事


The Leaning Tower of Pisa by Alkarex Malin äger via Wikimedia Commons

對一般文字處理軟件的用戶來說,要把字體「弄斜」,輕輕點擊一下「I」字圖示便成了。斜體(或稱「意大利體」,兩者其實有所不同)背後的歷史、意義和設計風格卻很不簡單。

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Design 360° 訪談

轉載自〈對話:香港理工大學設計學院(譚智恒)〉《Design 360°》2014年6月第51期「字語」,頁26–33(英文版本在此

Design 360°:香港理工大學設計學院喬遷至新落成的馬會創新大樓,可喜可賀。整座建築的外觀氣勢非凡,我很想知道建築內部的導視系統是怎樣的。既然說到了您的專長,想聽聽您內行的角度。

譚智恒:謝謝!入駐扎哈·哈迪德設計的標誌性建築的確讓人精神振奮。相信新大樓也會為學院注入新想法,打造新風貌。相比之前的學院樓,現在所有學科的師生都能安居在同一個屋簷下,無疑是件幸事。

說到新大樓的導視系統,由我們信息設計研究室承接,目前仍在進行中。我們的團隊已經開展了原型設計和多項測試,確保系統達到我們的預期。我們預想了使用者的尋路路線,針對關鍵點設置相關信息,以防迷路。我們設計了一套清晰易懂的思維模型,便於使用者一目了然大樓內不同機構和活動。這個項目的關鍵詞是「系統」,因為我們設計的不是單個的設計品,而是一整套連貫統一的導視規則,儘可能地將其簡明化。既然大樓本身已經是一個標誌性存在了,我們決定收斂導視的鋒芒。我們不希望出來的效果太過張揚,這容易和整體的建築語言相衝撞。新大樓標新立異,沒有哪兩層是一模一樣的,它迴避了建築樣式上的節奏重複,變得不可預知。對此我們的思考是導視標識應避免給人突兀或喧賓奪主的感覺,而應一目了然。 more >

Interview with Design 360°

‘An interview with PolyU Design (Keith Tam)’, in Design 360°, issue 51 (the type issue), June 2014, pp.26–33 (Chinese version)

Design 360°: School of Design has just moved into the Jockey Club Innovation Tower, the latest landmark of Hong Kong. Congratulations. The building looks spectacular from outside, and I am more curious to know its way-finding system in the inside. Since it’s your expertise. Any insight?

Keith Tam: Thank you! It has been exciting to move to such an iconic building designed by Zaha Hadid. I believe that the new building will bring new inspirations to the School and gradually transform its culture – it is a space that is of much higher quality their our previous premises, and all programmes of the School is now housed under one roof, which is a good thing.

In terms of the building’s wayfinding system, the Information Design Lab (IDL) has taken on the responsibility, and the project is still ongoing. Our team has been prototyping and testing various design ideas to ensure that the system works for our users as intended. The most important aspect of the project is to consider a typical user’s journey in finding destinations within the tower, and to provide relevant information for them at strategic locations to ensure that they do not get lost. We provide a clear mental model for our users to understand the various activities and organisation within our School. The keyword for such a project being ‘system’: we are not designing disparate artefacts but a coherent and consistent set of principles that help people navigate around with as much ease as possible. Since the building is already an iconic architectural statement in and of itself, our design approach for the signage is therefore a rather subtle one. We did not want to create a sweeping aesthetic statement that might be at odds with the architectural language. The building is unusual in that no two floors are the same. Unlike more conventional buildings, it does not have a predictable and repeatable architectural pattern. Our thinking was that the signs should not be obtrusive nor unnecessarily draw attention to themselves, but yet should be immediately apparent when needed. more >

Guiding principles for typography 文字設計的指導原則

Design 360 cover ‘Crossroads’ model for typography

Extracted from an interview with Keith Tam, Design 360°, issue 51, June 2014

What’s your guiding principle for typography?

I believe that typography is situated at the intersection of language, culture, technology and aesthetics. First and foremost, typography rests on the foundation of language, this is the most important. After all, typography cannot exist without language, and language is a cornerstone of civilization. Technology on the other hand, has to do with how we render, reproduce and disseminate written language. Writing implements, paper, typesetting technologies, the book format, the internet, all the way to the now ubiquitous digital screen – they influence what letterforms or characters look like and how content is arranged, interacted and comprehended by readers. Under this context, culture comes into play. How we connect with others, how we connect with information and knowledge, our behaviour and ways of life as a result of the communication as mediated by written language and communication technology, form the cultural aspects of typography. It defines who we are as groups of people who share common visions and sets of values. And last but not least, aesthetics is of course an important part of all this, but not as a pure form of artistic expression. The aesthetic value of typography is sometimes very difficult to define, and evolves over time and place. Typographic aesthetics concern readers’ emotional responses and have associative qualities that can be very powerful. more >

溝通的建築:香港霓虹招牌的視覺語言

Neon sign of Goldfinch Restaurant

為香港M+視覺文化博物館《探索霓虹》網上展覽撰寫了一篇關於香港本土霓虹光管招牌的長文,題為〈溝通的建築:香港霓虹招牌的視覺語言〉。文中為香港的地道招牌視覺文化溯源,涉及建築、城市景觀、字體、製作過程等,並闡述一套關於香港招牌景觀的分析架構,圖文並茂。冀能拋磚引玉,為研究、保育、和傳承具香港本土特色招牌發揮開導之效。

Just wrote an essay on Hong Kong’s neon signs for M+, Hong Kong’s museum of visual culture. Titled Architecture of communication: the visual language of Hong Kong’s neon signs, the essay traces the influences and development of neon signs in Hong Kong, exploring their connections with architecture, urban design, typography as well as production processes. It also introduces a typology of Hong Kong’s signscape, and profusely illustrated. I hope that this essay will spark an interest on the study, preservation and continuation of this unique part of Hong Kong’s visual culture. more >

再略談北魏

有兩本多年前出版,已經被遺忘的平面設計及印刷製作書籍,可說是蒼海遺珠。中一的時候,我買了畢子融、黃炎鈐、鄭偉宗編著的《草圖與正稿》,1985年教育出版社出版,是我的平面設計啟蒙書藉。直至現在,我對印刷製作的興趣未有減退。書中闡述的,是平面設計由初稿到印前涉及到的所有工序,說的當然不是電腦排版了。書中有示範手寫廣告文字,用的是叫「雞腳字」的粗筆標題字體,和內文小字用的北魏體,以小號的圭筆蘸廣告彩書寫。早前到珠海拜會為蒙納設計製作中文字體的香港美術字老前輩郭炳權先生,有幸見到他七十年代手繪廣告字的真跡。他稱內文用的北魏體為「釘頭字」。當年最出名的寫字師傅,標題字筆潤每字十元,內文每字一元,收入可觀。要寫字,動輒要等一星期。五十至七十年代,照相植字仍未普及,活字字體選擇亦少,手寫字樣較為活潑多變,適合用於廣告。郭先生說,當時日航指定要用手寫字,一來喜歡其風格,二來因為照相植字的陰版來自日本,很多城市名稱的漢語用字都欠缺,所以手寫較為方便。 more >

In search of Hong Kong’s traditional calligraphic signs

祥興茶行,區建公書(上環皇后大道西)

Our signs in Hong Kong are considered world-famous. They dominate every corner of the city, creating a distinctive and unique urban landscape. Before, shops were often independent family businesses that have been passed down for several generations. Shop signs traditionally stand for the reputation and goodwill of a business and have always been considered an important element of a business’s image. Names of businesses on traditional shop signs were often inscribed by calligraphers. If the business is owned by someone powerful or with a broad social network, they would invite a well-known calligrapher, literati or community leader to inscribe their signs, with the signature of the calligrapher proudly displayed on the sign. A more economical option would be to get a sign-writer to make the sign, also most likely to be rendered in calligraphy. The materials used for shop signs were mostly durable and long-lasting, such as brass, iron, wood, set in plaster, or more recently stainless steel, resin and acrylic sheets. Durable materials connote stability, reliability or good reputation. The expression ‘gold-painted sign’ is used figuratively to refer to a reliable and honest business to this day. With the skyrocketing rent and large-scale urban renewal projects in recent years, traditional calligraphic shop signs are dwindling in numbers, and in their place are cheap inkjet banners used for shops that change as fast as the volatile economy.

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追尋香港的北魏楷書招牌

祥興茶行,區建公書(上環皇后大道西)

香港的店舖招牌算得上聞名於世。不論霓虹光管的、銅製的、木刻的、油漆的、膠片的,甚至近年興起的LED、噴畫等,無處不在,縱橫交錯,形成了獨一無二的城市面貌。從前,很多店舖都是一脈相承的家族生意,一門長遠的事業。店面的招牌代表着字號的商譽,必需大方得體,是店舖的視覺形象。傳統招牌,中文字多找書法家代為題字。人脈關係廣或財雄勢大者,可找著名的書法家或文人題字;樸實點,可找專門製作招牌的字匠。招牌的用料以耐用為主,如黃銅、鐵、木材、石米等,至較後期的不鏽鋼、水晶膠、阿加力膠片。耐用物料能豎立穩健、可靠、信譽等形象。當下的香港,租金飆升,加上市區重建,具歷史價值及本土傳統美學特色的店舖招牌已經買少見少。

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Good science perhaps, but bad typography

Screenshot 2014-03-30 01.45.32

This has been circulating around in social media today, and I find it necessary to put things into perspective.

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Wayfinding at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University

I work at the Hong Kong Polytechnic Unviersity. Every time we have visitors, the first thing they say is invariably: ‘I got lost! It’s really hard to find’. This blogpost investigates why.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus map

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理工大學校園導向

經紅磡海底隧道由九龍過海,進入隧道前,會見到紅磚外牆的理工大學建築群。除了紅磚外牆,一幢幢的圓柱體也是理大的建築特徵。近年,校園內多了幾幢打破了紅磚圓柱格式的獨立大樓,風格迴異。我在理大工作,每逢有訪客,見面的第一句話總是:「我迷路了,好難找啊!」為什麼呢?

Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus map

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點心紙設計一瞥

Dim sum cart上茶樓一盅兩件是不少香港人週末的家庭活動。從前,大部份茶樓都以點心車把點心送到客人的餐桌旁供選擇,現在大多先以點心紙落單,稍候一會才把即點即蒸的點心奉上。

點心紙有幾個功能:讓客人知到有那些菜式供選擇;讓侍應生把客人所選的點心落單;讓廚師把客人選擇的點心做好;客人用膳後讓出納員埋單計數。同一張表格需要為最少四種不同的用戶設計,殊不簡單。點心紙其實是表格的一種,和申請表和報稅表等有相似之處,都是用以擷取資訊的溝通工具。良好的表格設計,提供的選擇要清晰,填寫的位置要突出,不要給填寫者有難以填寫或模稜兩可的感覺,避免出現誤填的情況。誤填令擷取資訊者無法取得所需資訊,導致耽誤時間或表格作廢等資源上的損失,也令客戶生厭。

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