Berlin Typography is a project dedicated to celebrating the incredible range of sign-based type that proliferates throughout the German capital. It reveals an astounding range of typefaces, ranging from traditional blackletter to midcentury sans-serifs to a bewildering spread of outliers (with a particular soft spot for cursive neon, a signature Berlin aesthetic if there ever was one).
The project’s tagline, “Words and the City”, evokes the corporeal nature of urban signage, with numerous pictures revealing the particular detail given to punctuation, umlauts, and the uniquely German Eszett (ß). Other pictures show letters locked in a slow-motion struggle with the physical world: suffering from shifting foundations, cracked masonry, or water damage, or forced to defend themselves (with a wild array of spikes) against the ever-present threat of pigeons.
In a longer-term sense, though, the same combination of forces that nearly destroyed Berlin in the first half of the 20th century kept it remarkably well-preserved through the second, and it remains an incredible source of material for intrepid urban typographers. The project’s curators describe the broad appeal of Berlin’s signage (with a growing legion of fans both local and international) in similar terms:
Berlin has a fairly extraordinary past, and the typography of the city offers an unconventional, but also quite immediate window onto its history. People are also responding to the beauty of these artefacts; they’re easily lost among the visual clutter and general bustle of the city, but by collecting the images and presenting them one at a time, there is greater opportunity to appreciate the typographic artistry on display.
Visit the Berlin Typography project on Twitter at @Berlin_Type.