Typeface Review


Reviewed by Grant Hutchinson on March 11, 2014

I’ve often admired the work of the Dublin-based Conor & David design studio — partic­ularly its clean, emphatic, and unpushy typographic treatments. The studio has continued to expand and explore this seem­ing­ly instinctive sensibility through their foundry arm, TypeGroup.

One of those typographic explorations is Noodge, a trio of bitmap-ish faces designed by Steve O’Connell and Simon Sweeney. Noodge is unapologetic down to its bones, demon­strating an unsubtle lack of detail while maintaining a familiar geometry, modularity, and structural evolution pioneered by the likes of Wim Crouwel and 8vo.

Ok, I’ll admit it: I have a bitmap bias. I was raised on the low-bit æsthetics of first-generation LED wrist­watches, chunky Apple II graphics, the green backlit glow of Newton MessagePad displays, and Lego.

I love pixels. I love seeing the edges of pixels sidle up to one another or just barely touch at the corners, forming hair’s-breadth margins and gaps between the binary dots. I love discovering what can be created using the fewest number of pixels. Therefore, it shouldn’t shock anyone to learn that I loathe Apple’s Retina displays for what they’ve done to the pixel. Marvels of technology? Absolutely. And, arguably, the pinnacle of displaying imagery and text in the best possible light. But Retina displays are killing the pixel, and I hate that.

Which brings me back to Noodge.

I appreciate Noodge for the simple fact that it isn’t trying to be high resolution. Instead, it’s embracing the modified bit as an unconventional building block of conventional things. Egg cartons, shipping containers, and interlocking patio bricks have been deliberately stacked into alphanumeric forms. Coarse, coarser, coarsest… there is no fine here.

The pixel is dead. Long live Noodge.

Grant Hutchinson appreciates typography, photographs suburbia, accumulates gadgets, and sweats the details in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys black coffee, low-bit synthpop, geometric shapes, single malts, juggling, and the smell of a freshly tarred roof. A shelf in his office sports a Diploma in Visual Arts from the Alberta College of Art & Design (now the Alberta University of the Arts) and an Emmy Award for his technical work during the 1988 Winter Olympics. He is currently a board member of the Society of Typographic Aficionados and head glyph monkey at Typostrophe.

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