Language. A set of general agreements to avoid failures and misunderstandings. But what do you do when sentence constructions seem nonsensical? When you don't understand the codes and get lost in formal rules? Then you break everything down to the smallest element and you arrive at the building blocks of our language: letters.
Rob Stolte has been struggling with spelling and writing since primary school. For him, drawing was a much easier way of communicating than writing something down. He was always told he was a lazy student. By mastering self-taught rituals and mannerisms, he manages to get through his school days. Escaping into skateboarding and graffiti, an interest in spatial typography arose.
In his research into the historical origin of letters, he learned that letters are abstractions of 4000-year-old drawings. Images that symbolized important objects that were strongly anchored in their social context. This knowledge gave him the opportunity to turn his weakness into a strength and to make use of letters in a more tangible way. Over time, the shapes of letters have lost their meaning. Observing declining reading skills, focus on visuals over letters and increasing sensory deprivation in times of digital revolution, Stolte began to wonder if our meaningless letterforms can regain their social significance.
In his work, Stolte examines and reflects the use of letters, language and communication in modern society. He is particularly interested in the psychological part of this process. Using a variety of materials and tactile experiences to stimulate the user's senses and intellect. Pushing the edge of literacy, multimodal information distances the user from existing associations and allows the rediscovery of communicative forms through play and exploration. En-passant redefining failures and misunderstandings in the set of common concepts we call language.
robstolte [at] gmail.com
Noorder Tuindorpslaan 34
Stolte is partner and designer at creative agency Autobahn
Photo: © Rosa van Ederen
Golden A’ Design Award (A is for Ox)
Golden European Design Award (A is for Ox)
Type Directors Club New York Certificate of
Typographic excellence (A is for Ox)
Nomination DandAD award (A is for Ox)
Nomination Dutch Creativity award (A is for Ox)
The story of our alphabet is told more often, but not as inspiring as this (5 stars)
Love Typography? Now you can smell like it!
Hear, see and smell: the art of the shore, paintings and yes, letters
MOOD: Museum of Outstanding Design (A is for Ox)
TDC 64 (A is for Ox is shown in 22 countries)