Lassa Typeface & Book

Lassa is a modular font created from geometric forms. It was one of my first explorations into creating letterforms, and it grew from experimentation, play, and a lot of gradual learning. The concept behind the book was inspired by the strangeness of the typeface, which I felt had no place it connected to geographically or culturally. I wanted to explore the duality of the human and natural versus the alien and unfamilar, and this is explored through the chosen materials, design treatments, and the book’s content.

The book contains lists of basic words in a multitude of different languages, both common and uncommon. The lists serve as a experience of discovery and consideration for the reader, as they look down the list of words to finally arrive at their English translation—and thus the strange words are given meaning. Although the words are very different in their visual and auditory representation, the mental image they evoke and the concept they communicate are similar for each list, aiming to speak of a greater human experience of living on the same Earth.

The human versus unnatural and unfamilar alien is explored through medium and other design choices. The inhuman precision of the letterforms meets the human hand of lithography printing, creating quirks and mistakes. The muted and natural colors—white, brown, charcoal, black—are paired with the sharp metallic of silver, and the rigid patterns that pair with the lists continue to use the font modules to create abstract representation of earth-like forms. 

Typeface Design, Book-Making

Type & Letterform

Primary Advising—
Ken Botnick

Tools & Materials—
Adobe Illustrator, AutoCad & Lasercutting, Lithography/Letterpress, Bookbinding Tools & Glue.

Above—Lassa’s modules, and the full uppercase alphabet.

The project is influenced by an Intro to Linguistics course I took, where I became infatuated with languages. Such different combinations of sounds come from our world to communicate similar ideas and experiences, and I wanted to use this as a lens to explore human differences, while connecting our similarities.

It my first time creating a typeface and creating a book, so it was a whole new world. I was at a complete loss at first. I did not have any good initial ideas, and while restricting myself to using geometric forms, which helped me in a sort of direction, everything I made the first week looked overly complicated and objectively pretty bad. The main lesson I learned this lesson through this project is that complexity does not always mean good design, and to constantly iterate and iterate.