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Basic forms are derived
from basic shapes—a
square becomes a cube, a
circle becomes a sphere,
a triangle becomes a pyramid. The terms shape and form are
often confused with one another as if they meant the same thing.
In chapter 3, criteria and characteristics that define shape were
Art is nothing without form.
Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880), French, Novelist, Playwright
form \'fo˙rm\ n
1 a: the shape and structure
of something as distinguished from
its material, or the shape
and structure of an object
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Job No:11-22360 Title:RP-Language of Graphic Design
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th e la n guag e of gr ap hic d es i gn
1 983
Aluminum Alphabet Series
Tokyo, Japan
Takenobu Igarashi (b. 1944) is a
sculptor and designer who has continually
explored the fusion of two-dimensional and
three-dimensional form. His work is based
on a language of basic elements—point, the
purest element of design; line, which de-
lineates locations and boundaries between
planes; shape, realized flat or dimensional;
texture, visual or tactile; and grid, whose
horizontal and vertical axes provide order
and logic to a composition.
While the majority of his work for the
last thirty years has been in graphic iden-
tity, environmental graphics, and product
design, his exploration and experimenta-
tion with letterform and isometric grids
has brought him international attention
and recognition. In the early 1980s, his
two-dimensional, isometric alphabets, first
conceived as a series of poster calendars
for the Museum of Modern Art in New York
City, quickly evolved into three-dimension-
al alphabetic structures that Igarashi called
architectural alphabets.
The Aluminum Alphabet Series, the
first to involve typographic sculptures,
comprises twenty-six three-dimensional,
aluminum letterforms. Each sculptural
form consists of a series of aluminum
plates of varying thickness joined togeth-
er by flat-head aluminum fasteners. Here,
Igarashi uses letterform to explore the po-
tential of three-dimensional form. He says,
“One of the charms of the Roman letter is
its simple form. The wonderful thing is that
it is created with the minimum number of
elements; the standard structure is based
on the circle, square, and triangle, which
are the fundamentals of formation.
Letterforms are basically symbols or
signs written on paper in a flat, two-dimen-
sional world. Design of letterforms can be
explained. Form is achieved by integrating
depth or volume to the equation of shape.
It is a three-dimensional element of design
that encloses volume. It has height, width,
and depth. For example, a two-dimensional
triangle is defined as a shape; however, a
three-dimensional pyramid is defined as a
form. Cubes, spheres, ellipses, pyramids,
cones, and cylinders are all examples of
geometric forms.
Form is always composed of multiple
surfaces and edges. It is a volume or empty
space created by other fundamental design
elements—points, lines, and shapes.
(continued on page 44)
Camera Work
Mende design
San Francisco, California, USA
New York, New York, USA
London, United Kingdom
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