Yet, perhaps because it is so present, we don’t notice it as being part of our lives. Rather, it acts on our subconscious.
“Learning type is a really complex process,” Sarah explains. “When you sit and teach a kid to read, it is frustrating seeing how laborious it is. You need to build new connections in your brain as it’s taking visual information, turning that into language,” she explains.
“But then once you’ve done this, it’s a bit like learning to drive, or learning to walk – your brain has now worked out it can give it to the subconscious to deal with, where it is going to take less energy.
“When your subconscious is doing the reading, it means that it’s also analyzing the typefaces, so your subconscious is the one that assumes something is expensive or really sweet. You don’t have to process that consciously, because your subconscious has already been taught a code of references,” she continues.
So, according to Sarah, “Every single one of us is already an expert in typography as a type consumer. All of these codes of references only work because you and I have been learning to recognize them all of our lives.”
In her new book, Sarah takes the reader step-by-step through how different styles of lettering can tell a different story. She lets you design your own fragrance bottle, talks about how to depict a sweet or sour taste and shows you how to put across a powerful message. She demonstrates that by designing letters in different ways, you can communicate any story you want.
This does not mean type is all powerful. “We have proved that you can’t fool people,” Sarah says.
“We have very specific parameters in which we can influence, and beyond that we simply can’t. Design is not that clever.”
For instance, you can have a delicious looking chocolate bar wrapper, but when the quality of the bar itself doesn’t live up to the expectation of the packaging, the experience is a huge disappointment.
On the other hand, when the food does live up to the expectation, the taste sensation is enhanced and elevated – you enjoy the flavours even more.