Monday, January 14, 2013

The Living Seas

Welcome back to Designerland and our first case study of 2013. This year we'll be looking at the amazing fonts found throughout Epcot Center, with our first stop in Future World. Unlike the Magic Kingdom, when my family arrives at Epcot, we always begin our journey counter clockwise, so it only feels natural to dive in to the fonts of The Living Seas. I'll only cover the typography from the pre-Nemo era since this is the Living Seas we all remember and love.

One thing I appreciate about Epcot and especially Future World is the symbiotic branding of each pavilion, so we’ll see many of the same display fonts and classic typefaces over and over again. That's called hierarchy of design, but over time, we see that hierarchy broken as wackier, overly-themed display fonts sneak their way in.

In particular, when looking at the Living Seas, sans serifs fonts are the most prominent, which is fitting because sans serifs are generally used to convey a modern, futuristic feel. There are a few extremely futuristic display fonts scattered throughout Sea Base Alpha, but not too many. As I mentioned before, Disney fans weren't all too keen on photographing signage back in the heyday of the Living Seas, so tracking down fonts was somewhat difficult. Over time a few serif fonts such as that classic but overused Times New Roman made an appearance within the pavilion. In my research I found only one place this typeface was used—while I suspect this was just a quick fix type of situation, it still makes me cringe. 

The Living Seas was my all-time favorite pavilion within Future World, partly because of the powerful preshow with its amazing narration and partly because I have a fondness for water. This week, in addition to the type case study, I'm also showcasing a t-shirt concept honoring my favorite pavilion. 

The design is based on the vintage graphic illustration used on an early letterhead that promoted this new pavilion. The design is a simple three color gradient in shades of blue taken from the front facade of the building. This is set in front of a simple back print medallion with the Seas icon, typeset name and original Epcot Center logo.

Well that does it for this week’s case study. I hope you all have a great week and see you back here real soon. Thanks for stopping by.