Designing Sacred Spaces

I recently revamped a student project done for my Experimental Typography class last semester. I’d put a lot of work into the images, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with how the final layout had turned out. So during my vacation I took a few days to re-evaluate it, figure out what parts I wanted to keep and what I wanted to redo. Below is the description of my project; you can also see it up on the Behance Network: Designing Sacred Spaces.

For Experimental Type class we were given the assignment to create a series of three 18″ by 24″ posters on architecture that use hand-made type. I chose to theme mine on religious architecture (I’ve always been fascinated by what makes a space feel sacred), with the first poster on Cathedrals (featuring stained glass), the second on Mosques (featuring geometric tile patterns) and the third on Buddhist Temples (featuring wood carved). The three posters featured words used in prayer or meditation in their religion.

Designing Sacred Spaces, Lecture 1: Cathedrals
Designing Sacred Spaces, Lecture 2: Mosques
Designing Sacred Spaces, Lecture 3: Buddhist Temples

One of the difficulties was that a lot of the beauty of these religious spaces comes from the intricate, time-intensive detail that they are decorated with—the challenge was to figure out how I could create a reasonable replica of the style with the resources available to me. For the Cathedral poster I used a skill I learned in high school and designed and created the stained glass window myself (I bought supplies and rented studio space at San Francisco Stained Glass Works). The Mosque and Temple posters I created using a laser wood cutting machine at the Stanford Machine Shops. I used photoshop to touch up the photos, including adjusting the colors to have a deep, rich feel to them and make sure there was enough visual differentiation between the two designs cut on the laser cutter.

For the poster composition I wanted to strike the somewhat difficult balance between a structural, clean modern architectural feel and the intricate, rich, traditional older feel of the religious buildings. For a sense of structure I used alignment and variations in size and leading for the different text blocks, along with two light rules. I used the typeface Pullman for the main title and the list of lecture topics on the left column, which is an angular typeface with a geometrical feel that I felt gave it a more intricate, ritual aspect. The other typeface I wanted to be very clean and simple, to balance the character of Pullman, so I chose Univers in a variety of weights and sizes. I also tied the posters together by giving all three a column of black on the left, where I traced the continuation of the the photographs to emphasize that the lectures were about designing these spaces and give a subtle allusion to a blue print or plan for the design.

All three posters feature original photographs of original artwork. All work copyright Rebecca Wright.

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