Andrew Byrom: If H is a Chair

I can’t help to watch this video for the second time probably because of Andrew Byrom’s fascinating typography journey. Bryan’s ‘If H is a Chair’ is another online lecture shared by my tutor Barbara Brownies. Sharing in a humorous and lighthearted manner, Byrom shared about his experience to shape up various typefaces with various types of materials, from one to another, he sees types in virtually different materials, different expressions, and different ideas.

After visiting Byrom’s website , I learn that Byrom has extended his unconventional methods and design philosophy into corporate sector, such as Penguin Books, UCLA Extension, New York Times Magazine, etc. Besides continuing his experimental three-dimension typefaces, Byrom also conducts design lectures at California State University. In one of article found in The New York Times Style Magazine, he explains his unconventional methods as a new way of finding:

“I work in three dimensions so as to force myself to find new forms. My work does not recreate existing typefaces in three dimensions. Instead, I allow the constraints of materials – and the limitations of creating physical structures with these materials – to help guide me toward new typographic forms.”

Starting his typography journey from taking photograph on the road (Fig. 1) and working on some two-dimensional typeface projects (Fig. 2), perhaps the bandage typeface design (Fig. 3) was his turning point. One thing I do learn from his sharing is, by bringing back three-dimensional typefaces back to digital two-dimensional typefaces, we are able to review the typeface from a new perspective. This gives me an inspiration to develop my practice project — an unconventional method to translate the figure-group idea. Probably by converting my design dimensionally back and forth, I could review and integrate the relationship in between positive space and negative space.

Fig. 1. Andrew Byrom, If H is a Chair, 2011, snapshot from the video

Fig. 2. Andrew Byrom, If H is a Chair, 2011, snapshot from the video

Fig. 3. Andrew Byrom, If H is a Chair, 2011, snapshot from the video

With his obsession with typeface designs, Byrom saw the hidden potential in converting various objects into typefaces. He kicked off a series of three-dimensional furniture-typeface designs by first observing a lowercase ‘h’ shaped chair. He went on to explore typeface designs in other physical form, such as neon lights (Fig. 4), bathroom fixtures (Fig. 5), Venetian blinds and kites. I’m not only learning from Byrom’s methodology and design philosophy, but also his adventurous spirit in trying new things and collaboration with the others.

Fig. 4. Andrew Byrom, Type Furniture, 2011.

Fig. 5. Andrew Byrom, Grab-Me typeface, 2011.

Heller, Steven, 2011, Graphic Content| Andrew Byrom, Available at: (Accessed: 10 Dec 2013)


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