Embedded Diversities: Design Explorations with the Tool of Type and Expressions

  • Nanki NathEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies book series (SIST, volume 135)


A script in India conveys a symbolic glimpse into a particular culture and the associated beliefs. There is an attractive diversity due to appearance of various such scripts. The diversity is not only in the existence of the scripts but also more critically in their visual representation. The aesthetic beauty and the traditional native identity are imbued as one harmonious unit in the multitude letterforms of any script. Indigenous ‘Scripts’ in India mirror the cultural essence of letterforms. Different forms of writing each script represent the origin of a script from the respective local context—where a particular language written in specific script defines the context (Nath et al. in Display Type Expressions: The cultural underpinnings of the sripts from two Royal Cities of India, 2004 [1]). This paper outlines the existence of three visual facets that are part of the representation of a script. The foremost facet is ‘Language,’ that provides a communicable/functional meaning to the form of the script. A language has a structure, syntax, and a cultural basis that are associated with the style/form of a particular script. The second facet consists of ‘Tools or Techniques of production,’ that provide the mechanics of letter structure, its construction, design, and style. The third facet consists of ‘Semantics (Expressions) and meaning based applications,’ that give a provision of a range of applications from unilingual to multi-lingual forms of visual display. The explorations of expressions of various local scripts and their type styles by design students showcase a range of functional meanings, cultural meanings and tool influenced meanings that nuance the compositions to a new level of aesthetics. The present paper brings forth the trifold visual approach from ‘Language’ to ‘Tools or Techniques of production’ to the final type forms that communicate semantics in the context of meaning-based communication aims. The methodology provides a scientific lens to craft the design process for better designs with type and their expressions. In conclusion, a conceptual approach in the form of an open framework has been discussed. This framework is envisioned to act as a scientific frame of reference to understand the design applications of scripts, languages, tools, and techniques, type expressions, etc.


Typography and diversity Language Local scripts Semantics Syntax Type and expressions India 



This paper is dedicated to one and all of my Masters in Design students of 2014–16 batch—who undertook the course of ‘Advanced Typography,’ that I conducted as part of their syllabi at the Department of Design, IIT Guwahati in early 2015.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Graphic DesignNational Institute of Design (NID)AhmedabadIndia

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