My type of hood
I admit, the chances of you actually seeing what I'm about to describe are slim. If you were ever to come to Denmark, you'd go to Copenhagen, the capital, the largest city, the one with the sights. You probably wouldn't come to Aarhus and if you did you probably wouldn't come to my neighbourhood, Frederiksbjerg. So much more reason for this local insight.
Shake your glasses!
For a while now I've been in love with the signs outside opticians, they make me smile because the alway insist on showing a huge pair of glasses even though they are fully aware that come next season, any chosen pair of glasses will look a bit dated. When you walk down this street you won't even see the name of this shop, just this white box with the black glasses on it.
They are so brilliant that I had to include them in my crest-building dingbat 'Wappenbee'.
As you read this, the store has closed and I may have the glasses up on my wall. I heard of the store closing and I went to ask if I could have the glasses, the owner told me about how he'd had them specially made and asked me to come back by the end of the month to pick them up.
In a perfect world the glasses would sit on that white box forever, but you never know if the 7-eleven next door decides to expand, so I figured I'd save the glasses before they were gone.
The typography of a dead, local shop can stick around. While there is a lack of housing, there seems to be more than enough room for empty stores, so traces of signage can be there for ages. This is a particularly beatiful example from a bicycle store that moved a few blocks, they took their sign with them but left the traces.
Another reason for these survivng signs is, that if the have survived long enough, people tend to leave them there, so if you walk around, you'll find lettering dating from the early 20th century, when this part of town was built, up to the late fifties. Unfortunately there's a rebuilding craze going on, I blame reality-tv shows like 'House Invaders', and that erases some old lettering from the streets.
The streets are Alive
The streets are alive with the sound of independent music. All this rebuilding, expansion and transformation isn't just a bad thing, it's the heart and soul of the living city, like this burger joint that decided to become a Chinese restaurent as well, so a second sign was slapped underneath the original neon-sign.
Another great source of inspiration is all the graffiti/street art and guerilla/ambient marketing going on. As is the case everywhere, a huge portion of it isn't very good, but there's a lot of it here that's actually very interesting. Bands, small scale festivals and people who just want to make the city a more interesting place are good at using the streets as media.
A one-day indie music festival called 'Oppenheimer's Afternoon' hooked up with a brickyard, got them to produce 900 bricks with an embossed 'oppenheimer.dk' and their URL. These were then distributed around town at night and people would spot these on their way to work the next morning, people didn't get why there was a brick outside their door, and another at the busstop and one on the sidewalk when they got off the bus, so they checked them out, smiled and visited the website. The 'Oppenheimer's Afternoon' people also told me that they were going to present the bricks to local celebs, telling them that it was an award, I'd love to have seen one of them walking home from the award ceremony, carrying their award and spotting another 'award' in the street. And another. And another.
Your personal guide
These are just a few examples of the urban typography happening in the streets of my neighbourhood. If you by any weird coincidence should happen to find yourself in Aarhus, drop me a line and I'd be happy to show you some more sights, starting with some of the stuff I've salvaged from the streets.
There may be a really cool pair of glasses among them...
Read Kenn's previous article "Alternate Fonts"
Kenn Munk lives, works and plays in Frederiksbjerg, Denmark. Works on an ancient Powerbook Wallstreet running os 9.2 - the thing cannot break! Fonts available through his website (kagi) or Myfonts.com Free goodies and baddies at my site, including free EPS sets, fonts and dingbats. Kenn graduated from Design Seminariet, Hojer, Denmark in 1998 (1995-1998) Dayjobbed at an advertising agency ever since Launched www.kennmunk.com in 2000
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