Memory is an impermanent, malleable record of an event. With each recollection, details of a memory morph and blur depending on the context at hand. An analogue exists in typography. As metal type is used time and time again, the letterforms wear down and lose their sharpness. This connection between memory and type inspired Memoire, the custom headline typeface designed for the fifth issue of Sub Rosa’s biannual publication La Petite Mort.
Sub Rosa designer Michelle Ando partnered with graphic & type designer Ryan Bugden to create this proprietary typeface to reflect this issue’s theme of memory. Memoire is the lovechild born of their individual interests: Michelle’s college thesis explored visualizations of memory, while Ryan’s involved creating dynamic typefaces with specific intended uses.
Ryan and Michelle began by ideating different typographic representations of memory befitting a print publication and La Petite Mort’s tonality. They looked to the early days of type when the act of printing yielded a transformation not unlike the distortion of a memory. Out of this, they sought to create some kind of experience for La Petite Mort’s readers. The two were intrigued by the possibility of a typeface that changes with each “use,” but its actual form had yet to be determined. For inspiration, they looked to the letterforms of De Vinne, a typeface cut in the late nineteenth century by Gustav Schroeder. This typeface felt old-fashioned and had the sharpness needed to make the transformation apparent. An aim of Memoire was to treat sharp features more consistently in order to make its transformation feel uniform across each character. Sharpness dulls, and corners fill in. The headlines’ transformation throughout the publication is something the readers sense before they fully discover, adding another layer of depth to this issue’s theme.