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Typeforce X Process Vol. 1

A Gorilla Walks Into a Bar...

Feb 04, 2019 – by Will

A creative idea (whether writing a gorilla joke or a creating a design) often starts with a premise and then thrives within constraints. That gorilla in the bar — what if she’s carrying a dozen eggs? Now we have to incorporate the eggs into the joke. Maybe she’s really into pisco sours, who knows, it’s a constraint that also gives us direction.

Client work is like that gorilla in a bar: it comes with its own premise and constraints. But when we design something for the annual Typeforce show it’s a very different animal. It’s a blank Illustrator artboard staring back at us. We can do anything, we have no constraints, which can really send us designers into a panic. So what do we do? We make up our own constraints.

This is the tenth anniversary of Typeforce. We’re always looking to outdo our previous work, but given this milestone, we’re looking to go all-out. This piece has to somehow represent both this show, and the accumulation of all the past shows. A decade in, we also want this Typeforce to be future-oriented: what ideas are still to come?

Clearly this thing has to be big. One lesson we’ve learned is that when scaling up, precision is key, otherwise at some point you might realize stuff won’t fit together. Add a material with unknown properties and you can end up with more problems, like the plaster that wouldn’t dry for Typeforce 8. This year, we’re developing a scalable system that we can reproduce consistently.

8888 Window 8
Typeforce 8 was right down to the wire, waiting for the plaster to dry

Here’s another goal: produce a well-made artifact. We admit to solving last-minute problems with gaffer tape in years past. However, we saved the best of those same pieces and they now grace the walls of our office. So this year we want to make something beautiful but also solid — an heirloom piece. Luckily, we have some sweet new tools in our shop to assist us.

Introducing: the Shapeoko XXL CNC router. This handsome devil is many things, but we’re attracted to its power and accuracy. We’ve already tested its capabilities with some personal projects and we’re excited push it further. You know that saying, when you have a hammer all your problems look like nails? Well when you have a new CNC router, all material decisions look like WOOD.


We’re not sure exactly what we’re building yet (client work always comes first). But we’re confident now that we’ve committed to a few choices it’ll all work out by February 22. We’ll keep you posted on any progress here.