’03 til infinity

The MVA Studio weblog—thoughts on design, creativity, business, marketing, teaching, writing and culture by J. Namdev Hardisty and Kimberlee Whaley.

Introducing Boring Typography

It was in 2006 when I first noticed that I was going to used bookstores and purposefully looking for books with black sentence-case (only the first letter of the first work is capitalized) sans serif type on a white spine. This method of selecting books to browse through actually turned out to be fairly productive in that I ended up with a couple of books that I absolutely love. Later as I was teaching at MCAD I blew many lunch breaks just browsing the stacks randomly picking up books and judging them by their spines. It was a long-running joke that I was going to make a book called Boring Typography and it would just be a thousand pages of architecture and engineering books from the 1960s with left-justified Helvetica on the cover.

Well, I finally did it. Except its a blog. We set up a copy stand in the studio. I’ve been checking out books by the dozens from the MCAD Library. I’ve spent hours driving around the Twin Cities tracking down every last remaining International Style sign. And I’ve been posting images daily for the last few weeks.

So, to celebrate the launch of Boring Typography, here’s the MVA crew with their favorite covers.


Namdev with Ad Reinhardt (1966)


Kim with Signs in Action (1965)


Our daughter Patience with Creative Playgrounds and Recreation Centers (1969)


Zoey with The Nature of Recreation (1972)

Function, Restraint & Subversion in Typography

All images link to Flickr where you can see hi-res (i.e., readable) images

Function, Restraint, and Subversion in Typography

Our newest book Function, Restraint, and Subversion in Typography is coming out any day now and yet we’ve been surprisingly quiet (having a toddler will do that) but no more.

Though its the third book we’ve released in the last two years, we’ve been working on it in some form since 2007 and so its with great excitement that we are able to announce that its finally done and will be shipping this month.

Function, Restraint, and Subversion in Typography surveys the new Brutalist, Minimalist, and Modernist typographies by taking a closer look at the work of 24 design studios in North America and Europe including A Practice For Everyday Life, Anthony Burrill, Experimental Jetset, MGMT., Spin, the Walker Art Center and YES Studio.

This is the most ambitious book we’ve done (at 256 pages and piece of writing about each designer featured) and we’re quite pleased to share it with the world. We expect to be talking a great deal more about this book but for now enjoy some spreads from the book:

Function, Restraint & Subversion in Typography: Table of Contents Function, Restraint & Subversion in Typography: Essay by J. Namdev Hardisty Function, Restraint & Subversion in Typography: A Practice For Everyday Life Function, Restraint & Subversion in Typography: Blanka interview Function, Restraint & Subversion in Typography: Experimental Jetset

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