Community: Italy is an exhibition about “architecture, city and landscape from the postwar period to 2000”, curated by Alberto Ferlenga and Marco Biraghi. On display at Triennale di Milano from 28 November 2015 to 6 March 2016.
The title and the background pattern is composed from the elements included in Tribasei, a digital version of Fregio Mecano. This set of 20 geometric shapes for building letters and images was made in Italy probably sometime in the mid-1930s and appears in a Nebiolo specimen from c. 1954. The designer is unknown, but the author of Modular Type suggests it could be Giulio da Milano who designed Fregio Razionale, another modular typeface system, and Neon, a conventional typeface with similar letterfroms as Fregio Mecano (both Nebiolo, 1935).
In 2015, Tipoteca Italiana and Lino’s Type collaborated on the “Fregio Mecano (digital) resurrection” project. The original elements were scanned and then modeled into bronze with a special 3D printer.
While Section Bold Condensed (Compugraphic, c. 1980s) is a digital interpretation with ready-made glyphs, Luciano Perondi’s Tribasei (2006) is a truly modular digital version. It is available from Molotro and soon from CAST— Cooperativa Anonima Servizi Tipografici.
The type treatment of the description “Architectura Città Paesaggio 1945–2000” is peculiar, too: This is not Mrs Eaves XL Serif, the 2009 addition with larger x-height, but the original Mrs Eaves, with capitals replaced by small caps.
This reverse-engineered construction plan shows the individual elements of Tribasei as used for “comunità”. The letterforms are made up from three lines. Depicted below is the character sequence that needs to be keyed in (underscore = space). Of course it is more convenient to work visually, with the glyph palette. Once the desired configuration has been assembled, one can play around with the 5 weights of the typeface.
I doubt that Fregio Mecano was already designed in the 1920s. That would make it one of the, if not the, first modular typefaces released, which I also doubt. The info I have suggests that it was also designed by Giulio da Milano and released in the same year as the others you mention, 1935. See also the article by Luciano Perondi in TipoItalia 3.
Danke, Indra. Yes, that makes sense. I was relying on the info provided by Tipoteca Italiana there. Now I have changed “in the 1920s” to “probably sometime in the mid-1930s”. Not that this would say anything definitive about the design date of Fregio Mecano, but the other face used on the specimen shown in the link is Resolut, which most sources date to 1937. I’m looking forward to my copy of TipoItalia 3.
Florian, Indra: Just a quick question, do any of you know what the typeface is that’s used on that text column from TipoItalia that Indra posted? It looks great, but I can’t put my finger on what it is. Thanks!
Yep, and it’s a beauty!
Photo(s) by Stephen Coles on Flickr.