3 years ago 💘 for day 8, 2019 with 379 words.

Heraldry

I often wonder when the backlash against minimalist logotype will come. I expect it will be soon. In this grimdark era of austerity where companies fall over each other in the race to pare back their logos to the point we are left squinting at a sea of chiselled black-on-white slab serifs, I think we are due a touch of the ornate.

This time around I hope the skeumorphic tends toward the heraldic. I want giant shields emblazoned with garish colours and leering pictographs. I want overwrought drop caps and outlandish ligatures. I want a border of carefully lettered greenery around every illustration and I want those illustrations to put the Pre-Raphaelites to shame.

France does this well. Every city or village has a coat of arts, a blason, and there are hundreds of websites cataloguing the many thousands of beautiful and bizarre things the designers of yore have felt significant enough to whack on a shield. Take the Bas Rhin region for example, where there are more than five hundred different coats of arms for an area about the size of Rhode Island.

These range from the simple (a sash of yellow across a shield of red) to the complex (a strutting rooster launches itself off a mountain in front of a black sky); and the banal (a pair of black tongs on a silver shield) to the inscrutable (a dude has draped himself inside the spokes of a golden wheel and is either grinning or grimacing, it's kind of hard to tell).

My favourite is that of Uttviller, a commune of about 180 people in the far north east of France, right on the German border. Their coat of arms is simply and inexplicably a red felt hat with little dangly bits to cover the ears. No explanation, no flashy website with a potted history of famous hat-wearing denizens of that part of the word, just a fuzzy, comfortable, beanie.

That feels lush. A little bit of luxury. The world needs more of that. So, designers, a plea for less san-serif and more sandy fishes carrying rings of gold (Plaine), a couple less gothic typefaces and a couple more gothic helmets that are shaped like angry swans (Westhofe). And perhaps a red hat.

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By Dan Woods

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