Three Dots Type explores the significance of 20th century Polish train arrows and lettering in his experimental typographic work

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Move around Francis Bourgeois, there are new trainspotters in town. Recent publication of Three Dots Type radical passion with Torypress is a compelling visual history of the world’s longest electric train ever produced, the EN57, which was invented in 1962. “This book unravels the untold story of brutal design, visual culture and the community of radical train enthusiasts,” says studio founder Marian Misiak. Some of the Three Dots Type members participated in the five-year process of collecting interviews from trainspotters, graffiti artists, model makers, photographers, painters and train conductors. The studio also designed a typeface for the book titled Tor Grotesk, “a new revival of lettering used on pre-WWII trains and signage.”

radical passion is just one of the fascinating projects born out of the studio’s interest in exploring the “cultural and technical” possibilities of typography. “We’re comfortable with ugly or uncoordinated letters as long as they represent something interesting, solve technical problems, or stimulate discussion,” says Marian. Seeing itself more as a platform and community of like-minded designers than a studio, Three Dots Type has dedicated itself to going beyond mere aesthetic considerations and aims to create its own “typographic culture”.

This ambition has taken many forms over the years. The Radius typeface is a great example. Designed by Radek Łukasiewicz, Radius is a variable font created specifically so that it can be adjusted to fit shapes rather than straight lines. The taper of the letters can be changed to make them heavier at the top or bottom, which avoids creating “so-called creases” (broken shapes on the curve). The result is a satisfyingly chunky, bubbly font that wraps around the shapes, elegantly hugging their curves and angles. Of course, it would be against the studio to just stop at typography design. With a touch of humor guiding the creative process, the team wondered how they could educate people with their curve-hugging font.

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