Sound-sensitive typography

Can a typeface react to its surroundings? Can it bridge the gap between auditory and visual experiences? The Goertek typeface does precisely that.

Imagine a world where typography isn’t just seen but also heard — a realm where typefaces become dynamic entities, responding to the environment around them. Kontrapunkt’s type design team is featured in the new book “Giving Type Meaning” by Mia Cinelli, specifically to showcase the dynamic relationship between shape, size, and sound in typography. The feature raises intriguing questions about the ability of typefaces to interact with their environment.

In 2017-2018, Kontrapunkt collaborated with Goertek, a Chinese audio tech company, to create a groundbreaking sound-sensitive typeface developed together with the Nippon Design Center of Japan. The result was a typeface yielding text specific to the scene and sound environment following alterations in volume and frequency. More specifically, the typeface “vibrates” to imitate the movement of different sound waves and frequencies. As described by Cinelli, loud sounds have greater amplitude and, hence, occupy a more significant visual space. Correspondingly, when you use the typeface digitally, it appears more dynamic and attention-grabbing in louder settings while adopting a calmer presence in quieter environments.

This innovative and award-winning typeface, sensitive to its environment, represents a fusion of technology and design, illustrating the dynamic relationship between sound and visual communication. It opens up new possibilities in typography and typeface design. As we continue to explore the boundless possibilities of sound-sensitive typography, one thing remains clear: the future of design is anything but static.