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TALK: Inscriptions in Stone (SPAN NYC 2015)

Google Design2015-11-06
SPAN15#Google Design#Google#Design#typography#stone carving#Nick Benson#MacArthur Grant#designers#span2015
3K views|8 years ago
💫 Short Summary

The video showcases stone carver Nick Benson's intricate process of hand-carving letters and designs into stone, influenced by historic and contemporary typographic styles. Benson's rejection of mechanical production in favor of handmade colonial-inspired stones highlights his dedication to craftsmanship. He discusses the tactile experience and human connection of interacting with carved letters, emphasizing the importance of conveying information accurately. Benson's innovative approach includes incorporating mathematical concepts into calligraphic designs, showcasing his ongoing exploration of unique art forms.

✨ Highlights
📊 Transcript
Stone carver Nick Benson discusses his work at the John Stephen Schap.
Benson explains the process of painting lettering on paper and transferring it to stone using mallets and chisels.
He shares the history of the shop and how his grandfather's influence led him to pursue monument making with a focus on colonial-era designs.
Benson emphasizes the complexity and sophistication of the work, despite its seemingly naive appearance.
The segment highlights the unique artistry and craftsmanship involved in hand-carving letters and designs into stone.
Transition to Modernist Graphic Design in the 1920s.
Paul Renner's sans-serif type exemplified mechanical perfection in design.
John Baskerville's typographic work on gravestones showcased a shift towards mechanical processes.
Ornamental work became naturalistic, while lettering became mechanical and out of sync.
The speaker's grandfather rejected machine-produced monuments for colonial-inspired handmade stones blending art nouveau and colonial styles.
Evolution of typography and lettering in the artist's work.
Incorporation of influences from Roman, Carolingian, and italic forms into his alphabet stone.
Exploration of typographic standards and refinement inspired by calligraphers like William Addison Dwiggins and Rudolph Caulk.
Innovation in lettering by combining various historical influences into a unique and impactful piece of work.
The speaker reflects on the personal connection he made with his work, viewing it as a reflection of humanity rather than just a mechanical task.
He recalls his father introducing him to computers in the 80s, which initially seemed overwhelming but became a valuable tool in his work designing the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial.
The speaker credits his father and grandfather for influencing his artistic style during his apprenticeship with them.
He discusses his involvement in creating monumental inscriptions, including the National World War Two Memorial in Washington DC.
Importance of tactile experience in designing letters for stone memorials.
Design process requires conscious decisions to ensure effectiveness once carved.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park Memorial on Roosevelt Island by architect Louis Kahn is a modernist architectural piece.
Inscription for the memorial features a contemporary sans-serif style with subtle strokes.
Human aspect of interacting with carved letters in stone provides a tactile connection for viewers.
Coping with Information Overload
The speaker uses historical calligraphy as inspiration for his unique approach to design.
Accuracy in conveying information is emphasized over aesthetics.
The speaker mentions a recent project involving mathematics.
Physicist Peter Higgs' formula for the standard model of the universe is referenced.
Creating calligraphic versions of mathematical concepts through carving into stones.
The speaker outlines the calligraphy on the stone before carefully carving it with a mallet and chisel.
Despite uncertainty about the outcome, the speaker is intrigued by the process and plans to further explore this unique form of art.