Maltese graphic and brand designer Hannah Grech Pirotta recently showcased her final thesis project at the London College of Communication within the University of the Arts, London after having successfully completing a 15-month-long Master’s programme in Graphic Branding and Identity.
As part of the project, Grech Pirotta developed the brand TYPE TANA, an archive and type foundry aimed at celebrating and preserving Maltese typography.
“In the current relentless wave of development, so much of our rich design history is being lost forever,” says the designer.
“Traditional shop signage, with its unique and handcrafted characters, is being replaced by new developments, in the process disappearing from our streets and consequently the public eye.”
Grech Pirotta says that her project TYPE TANA seeks to immortalise disappearing letterforms and give characters the opportunity for a new lease of life, maintaining that “we often rightfully decry the loss of yet some other long-standing commercial establishment while in the process overlooking the cost in terms of design history”.
The project features five custom typefaces which Grech Pirotta developed based on type signs from the streets of Malta. She hopes to continue to grow this repertoire of typefaces, taking inspiration not only from shopfront signs but vintage marketing material, food packaging and ephemera.
So much of our rich design history is being lost forever
Her thesis project exhibition piece featured a short run of letterpress posters with the specific type on display, as well as a Risograph printed type specimen leaflet.
She says that the experience of using these traditional printing techniques has been one of the highlights of her time at the London College of Communication, previously known as the London College of Print.
“There is so much good that can be added to a project by doing it by hand. I’ve learnt that combining various printing techniques with digital design adds character to the project as well as creates a link to the craftsmanship which created the type signs in the first place,” she says.
“TYPE TANA was born to celebrate and protect the rich and colourful design heritage cultivated by our little island of Malta. By capturing an element of Maltese design, I hope designers can find inspiration in what came before them, to help them create what comes next.”
Hannah Grech Pirotta was a beneficiary of the Malta Arts Scholarships Scheme and the Janatha Stubbs Foundation. You can view her work on www.hannahgrechpirotta.com and on Instagram at @hgp.design.