Dutch graphic designer Richard Niessen describes his experimental ongoing project The Palace of Typographic Masonry, a finalist of the 2017 Dutch Design Awards, as “an institute dedicated to the richness and variety of the world’s graphic languages.” In practice, The Palace is not a bricks and mortar construction, but rather a method for Niessen to gather and structure all his design values, sources, and inspiration into one mental location. It’s an imaginary structure akin to Memory Palaces, that favored mnemonic device of visual learners, which helps people to memorize vast amounts of data by locating facts within different rooms, passages, and other locations within a pretend building.
As Niessen explains, “Although the Palace is imaginary, I fantasize about its spaces and structure. It consists of nine departments: Sign, Symbol & Ornament; Construction, Poetics & Play; and Dialogue, Craft & Order. Within these departments you can find spaces like the Building Set Storage, The Gate of Cyphers and Codes, The Gridded Section, and Tracing Board Treasury.”
In one physical manifestation of the Palace, at the 2014 graphic design festival Une Saison Graphique in Le Havre, France, Niessen created an installation of 26 posters, each measuring 33″ by 46″, mounted on boldly striped wooden sticks whose intersections formed a dimensional alphabet. For the show’s catalog, Niessen bound the posters together using a simple elastic band so the pages could be reconfigured and reordered to create a variety of narrative journeys—a modular format that, in his latest installation, the Labyrinth of Scripts, he continues to explore. This time, his focus is on the world’s rich variety of spoken and written languages.
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